After getting a bye in the first round the Pac-12 Tournament, the University of Utah men’s basketball team faced the Cal Bears for the third time this season, but it came up three points short by the time the final buzzer rang, 78-75.
Overall, Utah put up a solid fight against Cal, but it struggled in the first half when it didn’t get a single offensive rebound while the Bears had grabbed eight offensive boards. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak felt that the first half of the game was a lot more physical on Cal’s part, and Utah had a tough time responding to it.
“When the game started, we had a heck of a job containing penetration,” Krystkowiak said. “Unfortunately, we were trying to prevent penetration an awful lot. We didn’t stay solid. Collectively, we didn’t do a good job rebounding.”
Along with the rebounding struggles that Utah faced, it also couldn’t contain its fouls. Krystkowiak spoke about the fouls towards the beginning of the game that were called against David Collette for blocking near the rim, but according to Krystkowiak all Collette was doing was “staying in his cylinder.”
“David didn’t go into his cylinder, but his cylinder was encroached, and for whatever reason that was a foul,” Krystkowiak said. “Mistakes were made, but I think those are turning points in a game.”
Krystkowiak would have liked to have seen a few fouls called on two different plays on Cal. He also mentioned that it was hard for the Utes to be physical when he had his big guy on the bench for back-to-back fouls in the first half.
“I’ve always thought [the five foul limit] was the silliest rule on the planet in college basketball,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s something I am advocating to get changed, not just for the benefit of the game, but for the benefit of all games with good players.”
In the second half, the Utes couldn’t get it together in the final seconds when it came to fouls. Trailing by only a few points with a few seconds left, Utah fouled Cal, but they fouled the wrong person.
“It wasn’t our intent at all to foul [Jabari Bird],” Krystkowiak said. “We could have done without fouling in that final possession. We didn’t want to foul Bird. There were a couple of guys we had identified that we wanted to foul to try to get a turnover. We knew we were going to have to foul at some point, but he wasn’t the guy we wanted to foul.”
Unfortunately, the mistakes and struggles cost the Utes the game, and they are most likely ending their season without an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, however, no matter what went wrong and at what point something happened in the game, it came down to just one thing for Collette.
“We just didn’t have enough energy to begin with,” Collette said.