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Cal Basketball

Cal Faces Pivotal Road Test at Utah

February 7, 2020
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Cal will need to move on quickly after a close loss to Colorado on Thursday night. The Bears (10-12, 4-5) will travel through the snowy Rockies to take on the Utah Utes (13-9, 4-6) on Saturday in Salt Lake City. Both teams could really use the win to stay close to the middle of the Pac-12 pack and keep near .500 in conference play.

After starting the conference season with a win at home against Oregon State, Utah dropped four straight games. The Utes then swept the Washington schools at home before getting swept in Los Angeles by UCLA and USC. As the Bears were battling the Buffs on Thursday night, Utah overcame a late run by Stanford to beat the Cardinal in overtime, 64-56.

According to KenPom, this is one of Cal’s best remaining chances to get a win away from Berkeley during the regular season. Let’s take a look at the numbers behind Saturday’s matchup.

When Cal has the Ball

Stat Cal Utah
Adj. Eff. 101.2 (201) 100.5 (135)
Avg. Poss. Length 19.2 (330) 16.9 (65)
Eff. FG% 48.0% (241) 49.4% (178)
TO% 19.3% (197) 17.6% (264)
Off. Reb. % 24.9% (276) 27.2% (132)
FTA/FGA 34.2 (121) 21.0 (5)
3P% 34.6% (108) 34.9% (256)
2P% 46.5% (284) 47.8% (125)
FT% 71.7% (138) 72.4% (259)
Block% 8.6% (149) 7.0% (261)
Steal% 6.9% (11) 7.6% (281)
Non-Stl TO% 12.4% (330) 10.0% (178)

After facing one of the Pac-12’s best defensive teams on Thursday night, Cal will face one of its worst on Saturday. (Although, Utah did hold Stanford to 56 points in 45 minutes of playing time on Thursday.) Utah doesn’t force a lot of turnovers and teams have been shooting well against the Utes, especially from three.

The one thing Utah does really well on defense is not send teams to the foul line. This could be a game in which Cal could get going from outside. The Bears shot well from outside against Colorado (7-of-13) but didn’t get many three-point shots off. If Matt Bradley, Kareem South, and Grant Anticevich can get going from outside, Cal’s chances of winning this game go up quite a bit.

When Utah has the Ball

Stat Utah Cal
Adj. Eff. 106.3 (97) 100.9 (147)
Avg. Poss. Length 18.0 (245) 17.8 (253)
Eff. FG% 51.4% (90) 49.0% (161)
TO% 19.5% (207) 18.0% (233)
Off. Reb. % 29.8% (108) 27.7% (153)
FTA/FGA 37.9 (54) 37.5 (278)
3P% 33.3% (175) 35.5% (278)
2P% 52.3% (60) 46.3% (78)
FT% 74.2% (69) 73.4% (303)
Block% 11.8% (336) 7.2% (250)
Steal% 9.3% (198) 6.1% (351)
Non-Stl TO% 10.2% (200) 11.9% (34)

Utah is led on offense by 6-6 wing, Timmy Allen, who is leading the team in scoring and rebounding at 18.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Allen isn’t an outside threat, but gets a lot of production from two-point shots as well as driving and getting fouled. Currently, Allen ranks 19th in the country (of all D1 players) in fouls drawn at 6.7 per game. Allen is likely Bradley’s assignment, who struggled a bit with foul trouble against Colorado.

Freshman point guard Rylan Jones is Utah’s second-leading scorer with 10.9 points per game. Jones leads the team in assists at 4.8 per game. The Utes’ other leading scorer, Both Gach, has been injured and did not play on Thursday against Stanford. He’s been battling an unknown (to the public) knee injury and likely won’t play on Saturday against Cal.

Forwards Riley Battin and Mikael Jantunen can also score and are averaging 9.6 and 7.1 points per game, respectively.

Keys to the Game

Fouls and free throws. Cal’s inability to get to the line — and make free throws once it got to the line — was a factor in its loss to Colorado. Combine that with Allen’s ability to draw fouls and free throws could be another significant factor in Saturday’s game.

Bradley vs Allen. Going off the above key to the game, both Cal and Utah rely on their leading scorers at the wing position quite a bit. Whoever has the more efficient and impactful game between Bradley and Allen will go along way to helping their team win.

Three-point shooting. Both teams can shoot decently from three and both teams aren’t great at guarding the perimeter. Colorado hoisted up 24 threes against the Bears on Thursday. Cal was fortunate that Colorado only made seven of those, but it probably shouldn’t get in the habit of giving up that volume of three-point shots.

Rebounding. Cal got demolished on the boards 32-23 against Colorado. If Cal can keep Utah off the glass and break-even (or better) against the Utes, it would go along way to helping its chances.

KenPom says … 69-62 Utah 74% win chance

That feels a little high for Utah’s win chances. If Cal plays like it has since the Los Angeles trip, this is a game it absolutely can win. Or it could be fatigued and have a repeat of the UCLA game. We’ll see.

Discussion from...

Cal Faces Pivotal Road Test at Utah

1,474 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 7 mo ago by bearister
ncbears
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Utah's Carlson was a beast against the Furd. It worries me.
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