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Utah Basketball: Runnin' Utes Drop Second Straight Pac-12 Game at Cal 71-58

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a tough Bay Area trip for the Runnin' Utes, as they opened Pac-12 play 0-2, with loses at both Stanford and Cal. While the Utes did play better against Cal, they still have some issues they need to clean up, or else they will be out of the conference race real quick. The Utes were led by Jakob Poeltl and his double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds, and while Poeltl was able to stay out of foul trouble, he was inefficient from the floor shooting just 6-of-14. There were multiple opportunities for the big man, that he just couldn't convert. Behind Poeltl, Brandon Taylor had a nice game, pitching in 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Cal was led by Ivan Rabb's 19 points, Jordan Mathews 14 and Tyron Wallace's 10.

Utah was much better tonight than Friday, overall, taking care of the ball with 9 turnovers on the night, but they opened the game with most of those turnovers in the first half, putting them behind the eight ball. While Cal is a good defensive team, especially at home, Utah didn't do themselves any favors by not running their offense through Poeltl for long stretches of the game. On the night, Utah shot 38.5% from the field, and only 16% from three (2-of-12). Utah was also out rebounded by 11, and many of those were simple 50/50 balls on misses that Utah couldn't come away with. Utah's offense was just disjointed much of the night, and when they did move the ball well and find Poeltl, they'd make their runs.

Utah was solid on defense all night long, which is nice to see. They held Cal to 44% shooting, and ran the shooters off the three point line most of the night. They did lose Mathews a few times from beyond the arc, but was very solid in making Cal's offense very one-on-one most of the night. Utah does need to find a way to turn teams over a bit more, as they only forced seven turnovers on defense.

One thing to watch from this game is how Kyle Kuzma feels after taking a fall after an attempted dunk (in which he was fouled but there was no call). Kuzma landed hard on his tail bone and sat most of the second half. Fortunately, the Utes don't play again until late next week in Boulder against Colorado.

This was an interesting game until the very end, Utah just couldn't get over the hump, as they would pull to within four time and time again. However, their inefficiency on the offensive end really cost them this one. It'll be interested to see this two teams match up again in the Huntsman Center, as I think the young Bears are much better at home than on the road, as it appears for the Utes.

The good news from this game is that Brandon Taylor seemed to find a good rhythm out there. The bad news is that Jordan Loveridge appears to be in a slump, and if he can't stretch the defense from beyond the arc, things are going to be hard for Poeltl down low. The Utes also got some good minutes from Chris Reyes, who got some extended run with Kuzma banged up. Reyes pitched in 8 points and a couple rebounds.

Overall, a better effort than the Stanford game, and there were chances for the Utes, but still a loss. Hopefully Utah can get back both Kuzma and Kenneth Ogbe before their trip to Boulder, as both will play key roles going forward. Utah needs to pick up this next one in Colorado, so they can avoid the 0-3 conference start, and build something on the road, where they've struggled thus far this year.