Senior guard Lorenzo Bonam mentioned earlier this week he wanted to blow Cal out for that double overtime loss the Utes suffered earlier this season, and that’s exactly what Utah did in the Huntsman Center on Thursday night. The Runnin’ Utes used a dominant first half performance to beat Cal by 30 points, 74-44.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak thinks his team’s effort was the best it has been all year long.
“I truly sense things are starting to get clearer,” Krystkowiak said. “Guys locked in and took a lot of pride in defending. Overall I thought it was one of our better performances of the year.”
Sedrick Barefield finished with a game high 14 points, and David Collette and Kyle Kuzma each added 12 points. Overall, the Utes shot 50.9 percent from the floor.
Bonam finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds, and one thing he hoped to correct from the first time was the team’s defense after it let Cal win the game on an alley-oop. That wasn’t the case the second time as the Utes held Cal to 23.1 percent shooting, and it was the lowest amount Cal has scored all season long.
The Utes got off to a hot start in the first half as the Bears had a hard time matching Utah’s point total throughout the game. Utah won the tip, and it nearly turned the ball over on its first possession, but Bonam made a nice back door cut to score the first points of the game.
Things were pretty even for the first stretch, and about five minutes into the action it was a tie game, 6-6. Bonam hit back-to-back buckets to give Utah a 10-6 lead, but the Bears fired back with a three-pointer to make it a one point game.
“Tonight it seemed like when they scored it hurt,” Krystkowiak said.
It was all Utah from then on, and thanks to a pair of three-pointers from Barefield and Bonam, the Utes worked their way to a 20-11 lead.
The Utes rattled off four more points to take a 13 point lead, but Cal was quick to fire back on the board with a three point play. Barefield made another three-pointer as Utah took a 27-14 lead.
After a pair of free throws from Cal, Utah went on an 11-0 run that was capped off by a Kuzma dunk and a JoJo Zamora three point play. The Utes then went up 38-16. Utah eventually held a 42-22 lead at the half.
Both teams struggled to get going at the start of the second half, and Cal was whistled for an intentional foul with 15:41 left to play in the game. Gabe Bealer hit both free throws, and Utah increased its lead to 22 points, 47-25. Utah used this as a spark, and it rattled off four points to take a 26 point lead. Cal on the other hand missed its first nine shots of the half.
Utah went on to take a 32 point lead as many of the Ute bench players entered the game.
Next up for the Utes will be Senior Day on Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Utes face the Stanford Cardinal. Utah is still in play for the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, and if Utah wins and Cal loses to Colorado, the Utes get the bye, but if the Bears beats the Buffaloes the Utes will be playing in the first round.
“We just hope that everything falls in place on Saturday,” Collette said.