Utah put the defensive clamps on Andre Kelly and used a 10-0 run at the start the second half to take control on its way to a 66-58 victory over Cal Sunday afternoon in Salt Lake City.
Cal held a six-point lead at halftime, but missed its first four shots of the second half while the Utes (6-2, 1-1 Pac-12) reeled off the first 10 points of the second half to take a 39-35 lead. Cal stayed close for most of the rest of the game but never regained the lead.
The Bears made four three-point shots in the first half but were 0-for-8 from distance in the second. Meanwhile, Utah was 6-for-14 from long distance after halftime.
"We didn't start the second half with much success on either end, and we never found a rhythm in the second half," Cal coach Mark Fox said. "Our three-point shooting in the first half was good to us , and in the second half not so much. We have to have a more mature approach. We still had a possession late where we missed a couple of good threes that would have got it to a one-possession game. Sometimes it's a make-or-miss game. And although we didn't play as well as I think we needed to play, we still had a chance there if we make a basket."
Kelly had averaged 19 points over the previous five games, but Utah aggressively double-teamed him when he got the ball on the block, and Kelly was limited to six shots and four points.
The Bears can expect future opponents to double-team Kelly based on the success Utah had.
"We worked on that, and I thought we were prepared for that," Fox said in the video below. "I don't think we nearly demanded the ball well enough in the post. I don't think the post trap led us to a bunch of turnovers, but I don't think we nearly executed with the authority that we need to on the offensive end to create advantages."
Cal's top scorer Sunday was Jordan Shepherd, who had 14 points, and Makale Foreman came off the bench to score 13 points, all in the first half
Utah's leading scorer did not have a productive game. David Jenkins Jr. came into the game averaging 14.7 points, but he scored just two points on 1-for-9 shooting.
Utah center Branden Carlton, probably the Utes' best player, was in the starting lineup Sunday after being questionable to play because of a sprained ankle sustained in Wednesday's loss to USC. The 7-footer finished with 12 points, four rebounds and one block.
Both Gach led Utah with 19 points and six rebounds, and Grant Anticevich finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Cal..
Cal shot just 29.6 percent from the field in the second half, dropping its shooting percentage for the game to 40.4 percent, including 20 percent (4-for-20) on three-pointers.
"That's really the key in the second half, is that they have six threes and we have zero," Fox said in the video below:
The loss dropped Cal to 4-5 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-12, as the Bears failed to start conference play 2-0 for the first time in six seasons. The Bears now return to nonconference play and don't face a Pac-12 opponent again until they play Stanford on January 2.
Foreman provided a lift on the offensive end for Cal in the first half. He scored 13 points before halftime in 13 minutes n the court. He was 5-for-6 from the field, including 3-for-4 from distance in the first 20 minutes.
He was the chief reason Cal was able to take a 35-29 lead at halftime after a slow start.
Cal had only two points in the first 7:45 of the game, making just one of its first 10 shots. The Bears were just 3-for-14 from the field before they made eight straight shots, including three from three-point range. That enabled the Bears to surge into the lead.
Cal played 12 players in the first half.
The second half started poorly for Cal. Utah scored the first 10 points after halftime to take the lead, but Cal still trailed by just three points with 9:11 left and were within four points when Shepherd scored at the 4:45 mark. Utah then scored the next five points to make it a nine-point game and end Cal's chances.
NOTE: Jalen Celestine made his first start of the season for Cal. He replaced Kuany Kuany in the starting lineup. Kuany then suffered an ankle injury in the first half and did not return to the game. Cal had started the same five players in its first eight games.
Mark Fox comments on Kuany's status for Cal's next game, Wednesday against Idaho State at Cal's Haas Pavilion.
Cover photo of Grant Anticevich is by Nick Grace, Utah Athletics
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