Poeltl powers Utah over California 73-64
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Jakob Poeltl says he'll do whatever it takes to get Utah a win. He doesn't care if it means scoring points, passing the ball or grabbing rebounds.
The 7-foot Austrian did a little bit of everything Wednesday night with 21 points and nine rebounds to power Utah past California 73-64.
''If the defense gives me opportunity to get 20 points, then I'll get 20 points. If they want to double team me and be super aggressive, I'll pass the ball,'' Poeltl said. ''But if I feel like I need to take over, I will do that and call for the ball.''
Brandon Taylor and Kyle Kuzma added 15 points apiece for the Utes (16-5, 5-3 Pac-12), who have won four straight games.
Jaylen Brown matched his career-high with 27 points and Ivan Rabb had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Bears (14-7, 4-4), who again struggled on the road - falling to 1-5 away from home.
''We were getting to the rim and we got a few stops in a row but Utah bounced back and found a way to win the game,'' Brown said.
Poeltl was a focus of the Cal defense but he still went 7 for 10 from the field.
''They do a very good job guarding me in the post so I tried to find different ways to score,'' Poeltl said. ''It wasn't much from the post today, it was more pick-and-roll, dump offs and I tried to move to good positions where my teammates could find me.''
He also made it tough for the Bears' interior players.
''Jakob is protecting the rim,'' Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ''He's getting to all the right spots and making things difficult for the other team.''
Down five in the second half, the Utes went on a 23-4 run to take control. During the surge, Taylor made back-to-back 3-pointers, Poeltl had a dunk and then a 3-point play, and Kuzma completed the spurt with six consecutive points. Utah led 58-44 with 10:24 to play.
But the Bears kept battling behind Brown's aggressive drives to the hoop. The freshman's spinning forays into the lane helped the Bears close within four on a 3-point play with 7:03 remaining but Utah dominated the rest of the way.
Utah led by as many as 13 in the first half but the Bears closed the half on a hot streak. The Bears hit their last three 3-point attempts and Brown made two free throws to cut it to 35-34 at the intermission.
Brown scored four of Cal's six straight points to start the second half, which capped an 11-0 run spanning both halves, to go up 40-35. Cal didn't stay on top long as Utah responded its game-clinching run.
''Except for Brown, who got to the basket too much, it was great team effort on defense today,'' Poeltl said. ''We had our rotations down, we knew when and who to double team and we actually rebounded.''
On Jan. 4, California turned a close game with the Utes into a 71-58 win with some timely shooting and suffocating defense down the stretch. Since then, Utah has won five of six games.
''They played with a lot more energy than the last time we played them,'' Brown said. ''And Jakob dominated today. He controlled the paint.''
California: Leading scorer Tyrone Wallace has been listed as out for another 3-5 weeks with a broken right hand. . The Bears have allowed opponents to shoot just 38.4 percent from the floor this season but Utah made 48 percent. ... Cal corralled 12 offensive rebounds but still lost the battle of the boards, 38-36.
Utah: The Utes allowed the Bears only one fast-break basket. ... Taylor and Lorenzo Bonam each had six assists for Utah while Cal's entire team had just eight. ... The Utes are 10-1 at home this season.
California plays at Colorado on Sunday.
Utah hosts Stanford on Saturday.