Utah Has One Last Chance At Winning First Conference Road Game

Feb 28, 2020, 10:22 PM
Utah Utes forward Timmy Allen (1) attempts to score against the California Golden Bears at the Hunt...
Utah Utes forward Timmy Allen (1) attempts to score against the California Golden Bears at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News)
(Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Utes men’s basketball team has one last chance to snatch a road win in conference play when they take on the California Golden Bears on Saturday night in Berkeley.

Utah holds a 15-13 overall record and are 6-10 in conference play currently sitting in the ninth spot in the standings and are a half of a game behind Cal for the eighth spot.

California is 12-16 overall and 6-9 in the Pac-12. They are two games behind Stanford for the seventh spot in the standings. The Golden Bears are 11-5 at home this season.

The Bears lead the all-time series over the Utes 15-14. Since joining the conference in 2011, Utah is 9-7 against Cal and are 2-4 in Berkeley.

These two teams met in Salt Lake City back on February 8 where the Utes picked up a 60-45 win.

Utes Need To Get Off To Good Start

The Utes had one of the worst starts to a game this season. But the difference between this bad start and others which includes Colorado, Utah didn’t fold and kept fighting. Utah had 9 turnovers in the early going with Stanford scoring 9 points off of those turnovers. The Cardinal had a 34-16 lead with 4:18 remaining in the first half. That was the largest lead of the game for Stanford.

While the Utes didn’t perform well on offense to start the game against Stanford, they did have a good outing on the defensive end particularly with Branden Carlson who tied his career-high of 8 blocks against the Cardinal.

β€œWe just absolutely got punched in the mouth defensively. We played hard; offensively, we look like a junior high team to start the game,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said after the Stanford loss.

Utah needs to start the game against Cal the way that they ended the rally against Stanford if they want any chance of snatching their first conference road win this season.

Cal Coming Off Of Upset Win

The Golden Bears are coming off of one of their best wins this season. They beat No. 21 Colorado 76-62 at home on Thursday night. Their leading scorer this season, Matt Bradley dropped a career-high 26 points and connected on five of his seven attempts from the three-point line.

Cal has won two of their last three. They are already over achieving this season after the media predicted Cal to finish last in the Pac-12 in the preseason poll. The rebuild under Mark Fox has gone quicker than expected.

Bradley is averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 rebounds on 44 percent field goal shooting and 39 percent from downtown this season as a sophomore. He had just 13 points in their loss to the Utes earlier this month in Salt Lake City.

NET Rankings

Part of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee process is the information compiled from five major metrics, the NET rankings, the three metrics from ESPN, including Strength of Record, BPI and RPI. The final two metrics that are used are the rankings from KenPom and Sagarin.

Utah is ranked No. 88 in the NET ranking after their loss to Stanford. Cal is No. 136 in the NET rankings. The Utes are the 10th highest ranked team in the Pac-12 according to the NET rankings, while California is last.

Here is where the other metrics have the Utes this week:

  • RPI – 62
  • SOR – 75
  • BPI – 116
  • KenPom – 110
  • Sagarin – 93

For California, here is where the other metrics have them ranked:

  • RPI – 112
  • SOR – 134
  • BPI – 182
  • KenPom – 159
  • Sagarin – 176

The Utes and Golden Bears will tip-off at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the game being televised on the Pac-12 Network.

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