BERKELEY, Calif. — Although it led pretty much the entire first half while shooting above 50 percent from the field and 3-point range, the Utah basketball team didn’t feel too secure going into halftime.
Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak felt like his team should have had a much bigger lead than the four-point edge it held, and a big reason for that was because the Utes weren’t doing a good enough job on the defensive end.
So the Utes got it fixed at halftime and held the Bears to just 22 points in the second half on 36 percent shooting. They allowed just two 3-pointers after giving up seven in the opening half, and the Utes coasted to a comfortable victory.
“The second half we really dialed in defensively,” said Krystkowiak. “We did a good job defensively in the second half. The first half was kind of a shootout and we were expending a lot more energy on offense, but we slowed the game down and got that figured out in the second half.”
Three Cal players, Justice Sueing, Matt Bradley and Darius McNeill, had combined for 7 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half to keep Cal in the game. Krystkowiak said his players were “on them,” but their hands were down. So they talked about that at halftime and the Utes were “far more active” in the second half.
In the second half, the aforementioned players combined for just 2 of 8 from long range and allowed the Utes to extend their lead.
“For us, it’s pretty much focusing on playing defense and the second half we cleaned up a little bit,” said Both Gach.
“We just tried to limit the 3-point attempts,” added Timmy Allen. “We let a couple of shooters get going early and it’s hard to stop them, so we limited their touches in the second half and got them off the line.”
“We just played harder and got a lot more active,” said Sedrick Barefield. “In the first half we were letting their shooters hoist up shots. We made sure we had hands up and weren’t letting (those three players) get easy touches in the second half.”1 comment on this story
GAME NOTES: The win gave Utah a 16-15 edge in the series with Cal, which dates back to 1940 . . . The Utes return home for games against Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State Saturday. Then they head back out on the road for games against USC and UCLA the following week . . . This was the only regular-season game between the Utes and Bears this season. In the 18-game Pac-12 schedule, there are always two teams that a school will play only at home and two they play only on the road . . . The Utes won the rebounding battle by a 42-25 margin . . . Cal had just seven turnovers compared to 15 for Utah . . . The Ute players and coaches were able to enjoy some time in San Francisco Friday, visiting Fisherman’s Wharf and touring the Pac-12 TV studios downtown. They practiced at the Golden State Warriors’ facility later in the day . . . Cal was celebrating the 60th anniversary of its 1959 NCAA championship as members of that team were honored at halftime of Saturday’s game.