MBB: Utah gets defensive in win over Cal

Ryan Kostecka

Timmy Allen entered the Pac-12 season as the conference's leading scorer — and a darkhorse candidate to win the conference player of the year award. 

While Oregon's Payton Pritchard has pretty much wrapped up that award, Allen has struggled over the past few weeks on offense. And when Allen struggles, Utah usually does as well.

So it came as no surprise that following his first 20-point game since the conference opener a month ago, Utah took down Cal 60-45 on Saturday night. The win earned the Utes a sweep of the Bay Area schools.

“Man, I've been missing shots I should make and I still did today, truthfully. ... But it feels cool. I've got a lot more work to do," Allen said. "I think it's just what I do. ... I don't think it's what the defensive team does. I was just more strong today, just played without stress and played free, truthfully."

Allen finished with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while adding four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“Some of it is self-inflicted, putting a lot of heat on trying to score,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak of Allen's recent woes. “We’ve got a lot of numbers internally that we’ve run on it. He’s going to garner double teams and encounter a lot of size at the rim. It’s not easy at the rim. I think you’ve seen some glimpses where he gets under control, he draws those people.”

Frustration had set in with Allen over the past few months as he continuously faced double times. While he would sometimes pass out of it in the early-going, his teammates struggled to hit the open shots, forcing Allen to try and do it himself which ultimately hurt then team more.

But Saturday was a showcase of Allen finding that nice blend of passing out of the double team and knowing when to attack — leading to the win.

“It’s still a work in progress for us, but he’s a guy that can generate double teams,” Krystkowiak said. “When he gets in that mindset, to find that blend I think is the big thing.”

With the offense finding a nice combination that was working, the defense was putting in work on the other end.

The Utes held Cal to multiple shooting slumps in the first half en route to building up a double digit lead at the break. Although the offense went cold to begin the final 20 minutes, Utah's defense continued to progress and only let the Golden Bears within eight, 36-28.

However, Utah responded by going on a 12-5 run that put the game away. 

The Utes forced 17 turnovers, scoring 22 points in the process to help offset some of its own offensive deficiencies. 

Utah travels west this upcoming for games against Oregon State and Oregon. The Utes face the Beavers on Thursday, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.