If anybody thinks that Utah might get a big head following their 79-65 victory over Stanford, the Pac-12's second place team, on Thursday night, think again.
"Talk is all cheap. We have to bring it, bring the effort, keep chopping wood and stay after it," Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said immediately after the Utes victory over the Cardinal.
That doesn't bode well for a California team who is entering the Jon M. Hunstman Center on Saturday night as Utah will be looking for its sixth straight sweep at home against the Bay Area schools since the 2014-15 season. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. MT and will air on ESPNU.
While a sweep would be nice, Utah star forward Timmy Allen isn't looking at it in that sort of context. To him and the Utes, it's just another game and another opportunity to prove themselves.
"Like I said, I still believe,” Allen said postgame against Stanford. “I think we got something good going. We just have to get all the pieces in order. … You can believe or not, but we are just going to keep plugging along. That’s a good team we just beat. Like the previous few games, we have been there before. We were just able to finish it.”
It was an impressive victory for the Utes against the Cardinal, as they put their second-half demons away by outscoring Stanford 45-40. In Utah's previous three games, they've been outscored by a total of 47 points, including having 10-point halftime leads against Oregon and Colorado.
Whether or not Utah can begin a winning streak with a victory over Cal, that win over Stanford proved how good this team can be when fully locked in. And it's why Krystkowiak is still putting his trust in the process and the hard work the Utes are putting in every day.
“I am not some kind of fortune teller that’s going to (predict that),” Krystkowiak said. “I have been around long enough to know that it can. You earn what you get, you get what you earn. … I am not going to sit up here and go, ‘Oh yeah, this thing (is changing).’ Talk is all cheap. We have to bring it, bring the effort, keep chopping wood and stay after it. And then hopefully we can get on a little bit of a run of some kind.”
*Utah will be looking to win back-to-back games for the first time in just under a month
*Timmy Allen has been on a tear the last three games, averaging 21.3 points, six rebounds and four assists
*Mikael Jantunen has emerged as a legitimate scoring threat, averaging 12.3 points during that same stretch
*Alfonso Plummer, apart from Allen, is the only Ute averaging double-figures scoring on the season with 13.5 ppg
*Ever since being inserted into the starting lineup three games ago, freshman Pelle Larsson has made his presence felt with his ability to grab rebounds and push the ball in transition.
*Cal is just 1-6 in the Pac-12 this season, coming off an 89-60 loss to Colorado on Thursday night
*The Golden Bears will most likely be without star guard Matt Bradley, as he's dealing with an ankle injury and hasn't played since Jan. 2. He is averaging a team-high 17.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
*Andre Kelly finished with a team-high 16 points in the game against Colorado, while Makale Foreman added 13 and Ryan Betley chipped in 12.
*Betley, Foreman and Kelly are all averaging between 10.8 and 10.4 points per game
*It's official, Cal will be without Bradley tonight
*Utah wins the tip and we are underway…
*Really curious to see what version of we get tonight. Is it the squad that was focused for 40 minutes in the dismantling of Stanford? Or the squad that knows Cal is banged up so stoops to their level of play?
*After three empty possessions to begin the game, Larsson gets Utah on the board. Meanwhile Cal has two turnovers and an airball on three of their first four possessions...
Utah 4 - Cal 2
15:48 left 1H
Ugly to start for both teams as they’re a combined 3-9 form the field with 4 turnovers. Larsson with the only points for Utah
*Larsson with a quick 7 points as he’s too strong and quick for the Golden Bears defenders
*Utah on an 8-0 run as they’re getting whatever they want on the offensive end of the court…
Utah 15 - Cal 5
11:39 left 1H
Utah still on an 8-0 run but have turned it over on their last three possessions. Utes trying to force the issue too much, but Cal still can’t score
*Lahat Thioune and Jaxon Brenchley getting early run against Cal tonight. Thioune has a fadeaway bucket and a few rebounds already.
*Timmy Allen with a three-pointer... we can all go home now...
Utah 20 - Cal 9
7:36 left 1H
Utah completely dominating the game but 6 turnovers, most of them unforced, are why this game is even within shouting distance
*Plummer is incredibly improved from last season as a playmaker. Instead of being strictly a gunner, he does a great job of setting up teammates for easy buckets. This is when he’s at his best…
*Utes are getting it done defensively as Cal has missed its last 7 shots and is just 1 for its last 13
Utah 24 - Cal 13
3:24 left 1H
Utes up just 11 but it feels like so much more than that. Krystkowiak won’t be happy with the 7 turnovers, 5 of them unforced…
*As an off-ball defender, Plummer is decently successful. But he really struggles in pick-and-roll situations and that's what Cal is trying to put him in on offense
*Utes going small to end the half with Jones, Plummer, Larsson, Allen and Jantunen
*Allen 2-of-3 from beyond the arc… that’s everything you need to know about the game…
Utah 34 - Cal 22
In what was an ugly first half for the most part — combined 14 turnovers — Utah will have a 12-pt advantage, it's fourth consecutive game leading by at least 9 points at the break
The 8 turnovers aren't a good look — 6 unforced — but it's more than enough to take a Cal squad who's without its leading scorer.
*Impressive to see 10 assists on 13 made buckets, as well as the overall shooting performance as the Utes are working hard to get the easiest bucket available
*Allen once again dominating all around with 12 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Larsson also contributing with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists
*Plummer has 8 points off the bench in a very efficient shooting night thus far, but it's his two assists that are most impressive
*Utes are absolutely dominating the rebound battle despite being undersized. Every player has a rebound except for Jones thus far
*Utah needs to not mess around to start the second half, go on a quick run to make the deficit 20 before the first media timeout and this one should be over
SECOND HALF*Utah to begin with the second half with the ball... and we are underway...
*Here we go... Cal with a quick 7-0 run to start the half and Utah's lead is at 5...
*Utah struggling on defense as Jones has 3 fouls, and Cal is now attacking Plummer and it’s working. Krystkowiak quickly pulls him and replaces him with Martinez, sacrificing offense for defense…
Utah 40 - Cal 32
15:59 left 2H
After a shaky start, the Utes have righted the ship. But the Golden Bears will be shooting 3 FT’s out of the TO
*WOW, Cal has cut into Utah’s 12-point halftime lead and now trail by just 3. Utah looking like the old Utah from last week. Utes playing with very little energy and effort, two things Krystkowiak harped on after the Stanford win
*It just got more difficult as the Utes have 7 team fouls with 13:18 remaining, which means Call will be shooting free throws from here on out
Utah 42 - Cal 46
12:01 left 2H
Well, Utah with ANOTHER very disappointing half of basketball as Cal is outscoring the Utes 24-8
*Have to wonder what sort of Utah team will show up over the last quarter of the game? Really ugly showing thus far as the team is showing very little fight on either end of the court
*Cal now has its largest lead of the game at 54-46… honestly shocked at what Im seeing right now. This Utah team is… well there are no words right now to describe their play…
*Utah has been atrocious on defense… if they want any chance to get back into this game… it’s going to start there…
Utah 50 - Cal 60
6:31 left 2H
*Well, the Utes have been outscored by 22 points in the second half. Utes appear to be tightening up on offense as well...
*A Larsson three-pointer and Battin FT's has the deficit down to 7...
*Utah going with Jones, Plummer, Allen, Larsson and Jantunen down by 7 with 5:19 to go…
*Brutal game for Jones so far… 0-6 from the field, 0-4 from deep, with 4 fouls and 2 turnovers to one assist…
Utah 58 - Cal 69
3:23 left 2H
Utah’s last gasp will come now with Allen shooting 2 FT’s out of the break. Won’t make much of a difference if the Utes can string together some stops on defense…
*That’ll do it… Brown gets the layup for Cal right as the shot clock sounds, and then draws a charge on Allen on the other side…
Utah 63 - Cal 72
Not much to say as the Utes give up 50 points in the second half to Cal and are outscored by 21. Ugly loss, ugly performance, and no idea where the team goes from here...
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