Men's Basketball Outlasts Cal Sunday Afternoon
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team outlasted a gritty California team Sunday afternoon inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center and picked up its first Pac-12 win of the year after downing the Golden bears 66-58. In addition, head coach Craig Smith also picked up his first Pac-12 victory at the helm of the Runnin' Utes.
Both teams took a while to get the offensive engine going as Utah and Cal went into the 14:55 media break a combined 2-of-16. Utah's offense looked like it was getting on track when Both Gach drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Utes on top at the 10:43 break (10-6).
However, Makale Foreman jump-started the Golden Bear offense and gave them their first lead, 13-12. A put-back layup from Lazar Stefanovic and drive to the rack from Rollie Wooster brought Utah (6-2, 1-1 Pac-12) within 28-25 but Foreman scored five of his 13 first-half points the rest of the way for Cal to send the Utes into the locker room down 35-29.
Utah got off to a much better start in the second-half and regained the lead at the 16:47 mark after Gach knocked down a short jumper in the paint, 36-35. He then drained a 3-pointer to make it a 10-0 run for the Utes and forced Cal (4-5, 1-1 Pac-12) to call a timeout with 15:58 on the clock.
— Utah Basketball (@UtahMBB) December 5, 2021
The Runnin' Utes continued to maintain its lead despite Cal cutting the lead down to 44-43 before Branden Carlson connected on an and-1 opportunity to push it back up to 47-43 out of the 11:46 media timeout.
After a 3-pointer from Riley Battin, Stefanovic drained a corner three two sequences later and nearly had Utah on top by double-digits. However, Cal went on a 5-0 spurt to get within 58-54 before David Jenkins Jr. found a wide-open Lahat Thioune for the two-handed flush to make it 60-54 in favor of the Utes with 3:52 left to play.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 5, 2021
Utah's defense clamped down on Cal and held the Golden Bears without a field-goal the rest of the way to secure the 66-58 Sunday afternoon victory.
Gach led the way for Utah once again, this time with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds - including 3-of-4 from deep. Coming off an ankle injury just this Wednesday, Carlson chipped in with 12 points and four rebounds while Stefanovic added 11 points and six rebounds with three assists.
BY THE NUMBERS
The 22 combined turnovers by Utah in its last three games is the lowest total dating back to the 1996-97 season per STATS, LLC … Gach led the team in scoring for the second-straight game … Gabe Madsen made his return to the line-up after sitting out since playing in the season-opener on Nov. 9 at the 14:55 mark … Lahat Thioune had a solid night, scoring eight points on 3-of-3 shooting with six rebounds for the Utes, who are depleted in the front court with injuries.
Utah now hits the road for a neutral-ish site contest against TCU this Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. (MT) on ESPN+ inside Dickies Arena – which is just 3.1 miles from Schollmaier Arena, home of the Horned Frogs.
For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at www.UtahUtes.com and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.