We now have a very concerning trend with the Utah basketball team. Play a nice first half, build a double digit lead, and then in the second half lose that lead and the game. I was thinking that trend was reversed against Stanford just a few days ago, but it appeared again in the most lopsided fashion, versus not a very good team, on Saturday night against Cal.
Utah’s played really well on the offensive side of the ball in the opening half, as we’ve seen the last handful of games, by shooting 50-percent while assisting 10 of the 13 shots made. Timmy Allen had 12 points and four assists in the opening half - including a gorgeous pass to Alfonso Plummer as time expired for the 34-22 halftime lead. Plummer pitched in eight points in that opening half as well.
Utah saw that double digit half time lead vanish as Cal took the 46-42 lead before Utah with 12:01 left to play, after a 14-2 run. Utah couldn’t find anything on offense, and they made Cal look like an offensive juggernaut in that second half. The Bears scored 50 points — 50 points is correct — in that second half. Cal would extend their lead to 62-50, and really it was game over from that point. A 20+ point swing in the second half is something that is shocking.
After that first half of shooting 50%, the Utes shot just 32% in the second half. On defense, it was the opposite. They held Cal to 33% shooting in the first, and gave up 58% shooting in the second. Cal had four guys in double figures, while the Utes just had two. Yet, Timmy Allen game to play with his 26 points and six rebounds, but he had seven of Utah’s 16 turnovers. Pelle Larsson pitched in 12, but Plummer was scoreless in the second half, and really nobody else stepped up. Rylan Jones went scoreless, and had just the four assists.
The Utes now find themselves doing some soul searching, as things looked to be on track after Stanford, but now things look in peril after this disappointing loss. Can the coaching staff, and the players, find a way to correct this? Because things could start to spiral if things are fixed.
Allen’s 26 points now moves his career-total to 1,082, passing Jason Washburn (2009-13, 1,073) for 35th-most in program history … the 26 points was also one shy of tying his career-record of 27, set last season against BYU (12/9/19) … Utah shared the ball well, assisting on 16 of the 21 shots made Saturday night.
The Utes now hit the road for the next two weeks. Utah will first face off against Washington State on Pac-12 Networks at 8 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, Jan. 21. It will then get a couple days off before battling Washington on Sunday, Jan. 24, at 2 p.m. (MT) on ESPN2 or ESPNU.