Big Second Half Gives Cal First Road Win in a Victory at Utah

Grant Anticevich's three-minute scoring binge helps Bears score 50 points after halftime
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Cal used a second-half offensive explosion to overcome a 12-point halftime deficit and record its first road victory of the season with a 72-63 win over Utah Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

The Bears scored just five points in the first 10 minutes of the game but scored 50 points in the second half, led by an impressive three-minute offensive surge by Grant Anticevich, to help Cal improve to 7-8 overall and 2-6 in the Pac-12. Utah slipped to 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the conference despite starting the game like it was going to blow Cal out of the gym.

The Bears' offensive performance came without leading scorer Matt Bradley, who missed his fourth straight game with an ankle injury, and has now missed six of Cal's 15 games this season.

"We beat a team that's been really good at home," Cal coach Mark Fox said of the road breakthrough.

It was just Cal's third win in its last 29 games on its opponent’s home floor since the start of the 2018-19 season.

And Anticevich played a major role in it. Before Saturday, he had averaged just 5.4 points in the three games he played since returning from an appendectomy, and he had just four points against the Utes with 10 minutes left in this game.

Cal took its first lead on a Lars Thiemann bucket that gave the Bears a 43-42 lead with 12:37 remaining, and Cal held a two-point advantage when Anticevich went on a tear.

He hit consecutive three-point shots and added two more jumpers to give him 10 points in a span of 2:42, and suddenly Cal had a 10-point lead with 7:33 left, and that advantage grew to 13 points at the 4.00 mark.

Fox called Anticevich's scoring spurt "enormous."

"He's a really good player who has had an awful experience," Fox said. "He was in the hospital for four and half days. He had not been the same since he came back. He lost a ton of weight. He hadn't played well. He's been frustrated.

"It was really uplifting for our entire team, I think, for our entire team to see him make a few, and I think it took the pressure off of everybody.

"Those were big baskets, and I think they took the pressure off of everybody, and they were able to say, "OK, we're kind of back now, and we can just play.'"

Anticevich finished with 14 points, Makale Foreman added 12, and Andre Kelly had 11 points and nine rebounds to offset a 26-point game by Utah's Timmy Allen.

Cal scored just 22 points in the first half, which ended with Utah holding 34-22 lead at halftime.

The Bears made just three of their first 18 shots from the floor and fell behind 24-9. Cal made five of its final six shots of the half to get within striking distance, but a bucket by Utah's Alfonso Plummer at the first-half buzzer gave the Utes a 12-point lead at intermission.

Cal had just five points and six turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Bears had just six turnovers the rest of the game and shot 22-for-35 (62.9 percent) after that 3-for-18 start.

The Bears' defense also played a role in the Bears' comeback, limiting Utah to 32 percent shooting in the second half, when the Utes went 1-for-12 on three-point shots.

"Our defense finally returned because we had not played well at that end," Fox said.

On his postgame radio show, Fox said the defensive effort in the second half was satisfying, saying the Bears' defense this year "has been a massive disappointment."

NOTES: Fox said he received about 20 text messages before the game because some misinformation was reported here that Saturday's game against Utah had been postponed.  It was Cal's women's game scheduled for Sunday at Utah that had been postponed, not the men's game.

Although Bradley did not return, Kuany Kuany was in the Bears' starting lineup Saturday after missing the past two games with a concussion.

Cover photo of Grant Anticevich by Jeffrey Swinger, USA TODAY Sports

Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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