February 14, 2015

If second-seeded Utah hopes to carry an outstanding run throughout the postseason, it may have to keep getting contributions from players other than Jakob Poeltl.

Third-seeded California looks balanced enough to win without riding its two top scorers.

In a matchup between the league's hottest teams, the 12th-ranked Utes hope to extend their longest winning streak in 11 years while the 24th-ranked Bears seek their 10th victory in 11 games Friday night in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals in Las Vegas.

After Poeltl averaged 22 points on 71.3 percent shooting during a nine-game stretch from Jan. 24-Feb. 21, the Utes haven't been able to rely solely on the conference player of the year as teams have geared up to stop him.

Poeltl has averaged 12.8 points in his last four games following a 14-point, eight-rebound performance in Thursday's 80-72 quarterfinal win over seventh-seeded USC.

Brandon Taylor stepped up with 19 points in a 70-64 home win over Arizona on Feb. 27, Lorenzo Bonam scored 16 in a 57-55 home victory over Colorado on Saturday and Kyle Kuzma had a career high-tying 23 on 11-of-12 shooting with seven rebounds Thursday.

The sophomore forward had scored a combined 15 in his previous four games.

''This past week in practices I made an extra focus on trying to play hard and trying to do all the little things right,'' Kuzma said. ''I think that was it. It was just good karma.''

The Utes (25-7) moved closer to their first tournament title since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12 after shooting 60.8 percent and hitting 10 of 22 from 3-point range against the Trojans. They've shot 50.8 percent over their eight-game winning streak.

Utah, which hasn't won nine in a row since an 18-game march in 2004-05, wasn't satisfied at the other end after it had given up 59 points per game in its previous six.

Cal shot 43.6 percent in Thursday's 76-68 quarterfinal win over Oregon State but shot 38.3 percent in a 73-64 loss at Utah on Jan. 27.

Jaylen Brown had 27 points in that contest, while Tyrone Wallace did not play due to a broken hand. Brown leads the Bears (23-9) with 15.1 points per game and Wallace is second with 14.9, but they combined for 14 on 2-of-15 shooting against the Beavers.

Ivan Rabb led the way with 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jabari Bird added 20 with five 3-pointers and Jordan Mathews scored 17. Mathews has averaged 16 over the past four games for Cal, which is playing its best basketball at the right time during this 9-1 stretch.

The Bears haven't won the tourney despite advancing to the title game in 2006 and '10.

"We can't look ahead," Rabb said. "We have to take it one game at a time and now we have to play a tough Utah team."

Rabb had 19 points and 10 rebounds on Jan. 3 when Cal outrebounded the Utes 39-28 on the way to a 71-58 home win. The freshman also contributed 12 and 12 in February when Utah held Brown and Wallace to a combined 19 points on 7-of-21 shooting.

Poeltl has been a force against the Bears, averaging 19.3 points in his last three matchups. Taylor has chipped in with 15 in each of the two games this season.

The Utes have won four of the past five meetings with Cal, which has lost 16 of 19 versus ranked opponents at neutral sites.

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