Rabb helps California hands No. 21 Utah second straight loss
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Utah’s second straight loss is almost certain to knock the Utes out of the Top 25.
That’s certainly not the direction coach Larry Krystkowiak expected his high-scoring team to be headed going into the weekend, not after putting up a pair of 100-point games in its final two nonconference games.
Ivan Rabb scored 11 of his season-high 19 points in the final 6:45 and Jordan Mathews made two late 3-poiinters to help California beat No. 21 Utah 71-58 on Sunday night.
“It was an effort,” Krystkowiak said. “The guys hung in there I thought and managed to keep it in striking distance. I thought the end of the first half and a nice little stretch up until the end of the game when it got away from us was decent. We were persistent and hung in there.”
That’s about all that Utah will want to remember from its lost weekend out West.
Jakob Poeltl led Utah (11-4, 0-2) with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Kevin Taylor added 15 points.
Coming off an overtime loss to Stanford on Friday night, the Utes were held to 22 points in the first 20 minutes and didn’t make their best run until midway through the second half after falling behind by 12.
But Utah couldn’t sustain the brief surge and made only three baskets over the final 8 minutes.
“I thought our guys stayed with it and kept their composure,” California coach Cuonzo Martin said. “When you have a level of toughness to you and an edge and a defensive identity, you have a chance to be very successful.”
Jordan Mathews added 14 points, hitting two late 3-pointers, and Tyrone Wallace had 10 points and six assists for the Golden Bears (12-3, 2-0 Pac-12).
After Utah cut it to 52-48 on Poeltl’s two free throws with 7:08 remaining, Rabb had a three-point play and Mathews followed with a 3-pointer. Brandon Taylor made two free throws for the Utes, but Rabb scored Cal’s next eight points, including a 16-foot turnaround jumper from the baseline to help keep the Bears unbeaten at home.
Cal built an early double-digit lead despite 7-foot starting center Kameron Rooks and 7-1 backup Kingsley Okoroh in foul trouble with three apiece.
With both big men on the bench late, though, the Utes took advantage and closed to 26-22 at halftime. Poeltl led Utah’s surge with five points — including three free throws — over the final 2:37.
Utah: Kyle Kuzma left the game with 16:08 left to play after taking a hard fall when his attempted one-handed dunk was blocked by Okoroh. Kuzma limped off the court and finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. ... The Utes missed six of their first seven 3-point shots. ... Utah’s 22 points were the second-fewest it has scored in a first half this season.
California: Okoroh, coming off the best game of his career when he had 10 points and four blocked shots against Colorado, was in foul trouble most of the night and was held scoreless. He had five rebounds and three blocked shots. ... Cal is giving up an average of 60 points over its past seven games.
POELTL’S TOUGH NIGHT: Poeltl is considered one of the top big men in the Pac-12 but the 7-foot Austrian struggled with his shot most of the night, going 6 of 14 while battling Okoroh and Rooks most of the game. “It’s hard to shoot shots over those guys,” Martin said. “As talented as Poeltl is, Kam and King are big guys. You’re not just going to shoot easy shots.”
Utah: At Colorado on Friday night.
California: At Oregon on Wednesday night.