After digging an 18-4 hole against the Bears, the Utes rallied in the first half to force two overtimes, but just couldn’t get over the hump to get the Pac-12 win on the road, falling to Cal 77-75. The first half of the first half was extremely ugly. Utah couldn’t get out of their own way, after turnover after turnover, as well as the inability to finish possessions. The second half of the first half Utah finally buckled down and decided to play some basketball, and was jump started by Parker Van Dyke, who continues to play well for Coach K. He only had 7 points on the game, but his three in that first half kind of snapped Utah out of a funk and helped propel them back into the game.
Utah and Cal are arguably two of the better defensive teams in the league, and the score with two overtimes show that. Both teams went through some massive field goal draughts in the second half, and Utah was so close to taking the lead on multiple occasions, but struggled to get over that hump until the end of regulation. Utah had every opportunity in the world to win this game, and probably should have. However, the issues at the end of regulation, and the two overtimes came back to haunt them. Missed rebounds, missed free throws, bad turnovers, and missed defensive assignments usually add up to a loss. The final one was when Utah lost track of Jabari Bird, who had Utah’s number tonight with 26 points. He was especially a pain in the second overtime. When Utah would make a play to give themselves the lead Utah, Cal would find Bird and he’d counter. The Utes lost track of Bird on the final possession, and he made them pay with the game winner.
One storyline throughout this game was the officials, and how much they wanted to interject themselves into the game. Yes, it was a double overtime game, but almost seven guys fouled out tonight, three of which actually did! For the Utes, Sedrick Barefield fouled out, while David Collette and Lorenzo Bonam each had four fouls. Collette was battling foul trouble from the start (I know, big shocker), and that really stifled him throughout the game. Cal had two guys foul out, with Kingsley Okoroh and Kameron Rooks, as well as two more with four fouls with Charlie Moore and Ivan Rabb. Come on Pac-12 refs, do better.
The Utes were led on the night by Kyle Kuzma, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and forced OT with his layup with only seconds remaining. Lorenzo Bonam had 15 solid points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Collette had 14 on a rough 5-of-12 from the floor and only the 4 rebounds. Bonam tried to will the Utes to the win in double OT, but couldn't quite close the door. Utah returned to the Utah of the non-conference with 19 turnovers. You’re not going to win that many games with that many turnovers. Frankly, it’s amazing that Utah was able to rally after digging the hole they did, and turnover over the ball the way they did. Fortunately, Cal wasn’t able to capitalize.
Next up for the Utes, a must win at Stanford. It’s not an easy road for the Utes, and hasn’t been all season. Their margin for error is gone, and now they must win every winnable game, and try and get Oregon. It’ll be tough to get into the NCAA Tournament at this point, but there will be chances.