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Cal Basketball

Cal Hoops: Bears Host Utah Utes in Home Season Finale

February 28, 2020
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Cal head coach Mark Fox said after Thursday’s 76-62 upset win over Colorado that previous games don’t impact future games. But it’s hard not to hope Cal’s start-to-finish domination over the No. 21 Buffaloes will carry over some swagger for the Bears as they host Utah in the season finale at Haas Pavilion.

To be sure, the Bears could use some extra confidence as it faces a team that dismantled them earlier this month. When Utah (15-13, 6-10) and Cal (12-16, 6-9) met in Salt Lake City on February 8, it was one of the Bears’ worst offensive performances of the year as the Utes stifled Cal en route to a 60-45 win. The 45 point total tied Cal’s second-lowest scoring game of the season (the lowest being the 40 points it put up at UCLA).

But this game is obviously being played in Berkeley, where Cal is a totally different team than it is outside of Haas Pavilion. Since the teams last met, Cal has gone 2-3 with losses to Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington and wins over Washington State and Colorado. Utah has gone 1-4 with losses to Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, and Stanford. The Utes’ lone win was a 14-point drubbing of USC in Salt Lake. 

With Cal sitting half a game ahead of Utah in the conference standings, the outcome of this game will have an impact on conference tournament seeding. Let’s take a look at how the teams matchup.

When Cal has the Ball

Stat Cal Utah
Adj. Eff. 100.4 (196) 99.1 (122)
Avg. Poss. Length 19.3 (332) 17.2 (120)
Eff. FG% 47.2% (279) 50.2% (215)
TO% 19.4% (216) 18.1% (224)
Off. Reb. % 24.8% (282) 26.8% (125)
FTA/FGA 35.5 (99) 21.9 (7)
3P% 34.6% (100) 35.8% (298)
2P% 45.3% (325) 48.2% (131)
FT% 72.6% (114) 72.6% (267)
Block% 9.5% (249) 7.6% (236)
Steal% 7.3% (24) 8.2% (238)
Non-Stl TO% 12.1% (329) 10.0% (172)

It’s a little bamboozling that Cal only put up 45 points and shot so poorly against the Utes. Yes, Cal has had trouble scoring on the road. But Utah’s defense is just slightly above average and is one of the worst in the conference. For Pac-12 games only, Utah is averaging a defensive efficiency rate of 105.5, which ranks 11th. Only Oregon State has a worse conference-only defensive efficiency rate. On the other hand, Cal’s conference-only offensive efficiency rate of 91.2 is last in the conference. At times this season, Cal’s offense has made bad defensive teams look good.

The one thing Utah does really well on defense is not sending teams to the free-throw line. The Utes are giving up a FTA/FGA rate of just 21.9, which is seventh in the country. 

When Utah has the Ball

Stat Utah Cal
Adj. Eff. 104.8 (120) 99.5 (126)
Avg. Poss. Length 18.2 (261) 17.6 (195)
Eff. FG% 51.01% (103) 49.2% (158)
TO% 19.7% (236) 17.6% (256)
Off. Reb. % 28.6% (156) 26.8% (124)
FTA/FGA 36.5 (78) 37.1 (276)
3P% 32.7% (196) 34.9% (261)
2P% 52.4% (59) 47.3% (95)
FT% 72.9% (103) 73.5% (309)
Block% 11.2% (329) 6.7% (281)
Steal% 9.7% (254) 6.0% (350)
Non-Stl TO% 10.0% (199) 11.6% (36)

Similar to its defense, Utah’s offense is slightly above average compared to the 350 other D1 hoops teams. The Utes shoot it fairly well from inside the three-point arc at 52.4%, which ranks 59th in the country. At 36.5, Utah has a decent FTA to FGA rate. But the Utes turn it over fairly often, aren’t great shooting it from three and have high block and steal rates.

Keys to the Game

Contain Timmy Allen. The sophomore wing pretty much won the game for the Utes the first time the teams met. Not only did he lead all scorers with 21 points, but he got Matt Bradley in foul trouble. Allen leads Utah in scoring (17.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.2 per game). But, again, perhaps more importantly, Allen ranks 31st in the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes at 6.4. Bradley has been prone to foul at times and one way to keep Utah in this game is with Bradley on the bench in foul trouble. We’ll see if Fox changes up the lineup to put someone like Kuany Kuany on Allen or switches to a zone or just puts his trust in Bradley’s ability to get stops without fouling. This is a moment where the Juhwan Harris-Dyson hole is felt.

Three-point shots. Cal put the game away early against Colorado with three-point shooting. Utah isn’t great at guarding the three-point line. If Cal can get Bradley, Kareem South, or Grant Anticevich going, this game could have a similar feel of the game at Wazzu or at home against Colorado where the Bears get up big early.

Free-throws. On the season, Utah has got 20.9% of its points from the free-throw line while its opponents have averaged just 13.7% of their points from the free-throw line. Meaning, Utah is benefiting a lot more from the charity stripe. That didn’t happen in the first meeting between the teams, but it’s another way in which Utah could keep this game close.

Turnovers. Cal committed 17 of them against Utah in Salt Lake City. Utah committed just nine. Being careless with the ball is just another way the Bears could keep Utah in this game.

KenPom says … 65-64, Cal win chance 52%

This feels like a game in which Cal should build an early lead and coast. Prove me right and send the seniors out on a good note, fellas. 

Discussion from...

Cal Hoops: Bears Host Utah Utes in Home Season Finale

3,831 Views | 11 Replies | Last: 2 yr ago by oskidunker
Chabbear
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We win this game and we are almost locked into the 8th seed. We lose and we still are likely in the 8-9 slot. We have 3 games left, Utah at home and Oregon and OSU away. The sixth and seventh slots are held by USC (2 games left) and Stanford (3 games left) both 2 games up on us. WSU (3 games left) and Utah (2 games left) are one game behind us and OSU 2 games behind (2 games left). We have business left with Utah and OSU.

Still, we were "favored" for 12th in the conference, we have overachieved big time.

Go Bears, beat the Utes.
NathanAllen
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It should also be noted Both Gach is back for the Utes. He had 15 points and five rebounds on Thursday against Stanford. Was out the first time Cal and Utah met in SLC. Just adds another long and athletic scorer on the perimeter to compliment Allen.
oskidunker
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Who is 9th.
Chabbear
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Utah is 9th now. So, we likely play them again after this weekend in the first round of the playoffs.
oskidunker
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****
KoreAmBear
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I hope there is a big crowd for the seniors. I esp have much admiration for Paris, who reportedly would cry after games last year bc he thought he messed up. Then early on it didn't look like his senior year swan song was going his way with the new coaching staff. Well he stuck through it and is now playing the best ball of his career. You gotta love that. He embodies the Bear will never die, the Bear will never quit attitude.
CALiforniALUM
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NathanAllen said:

It should also be noted Both Gach is back for the Utes. He had 15 points and five rebounds on Thursday against Stanford. Was out the first time Cal and Utah met in SLC. Just adds another long and athletic scorer on the perimeter to compliment Allen.


Yeah, but they have that really tall influencer out this game Now that we are in Berkeley. What was the name? Oh yeah, ELEVATION.

The elevation on the back end of a mountain trip is huge. After pushing Colorado in our first game I suspect we may have been less chippy than normal. I'd be interested to see some stats on what the winning percentage is for teams playing on the back end of the Colorado/Utah trip vs the front end.
Civil Bear
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CALiforniALUM said:

NathanAllen said:

It should also be noted Both Gach is back for the Utes. He had 15 points and five rebounds on Thursday against Stanford. Was out the first time Cal and Utah met in SLC. Just adds another long and athletic scorer on the perimeter to compliment Allen.


Yeah, but they have that really tall influencer out this game Now that we are in Berkeley. What was the name? Oh yeah, ELEVATION.

The elevation on the back end of a mountain trip is huge. After pushing Colorado in our first game I suspect we may have been less chippy than normal. I'd be interested to see some stats on what the winning percentage is for teams playing on the back end of the Colorado/Utah trip vs the front end.

Interesting. Although the back end is probably tougher on any road trip, I figure the front end would be the tougher of the two at altitude due to acclimation.
Bearprof
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Civil Bear said:

CALiforniALUM said:

NathanAllen said:

It should also be noted Both Gach is back for the Utes. He had 15 points and five rebounds on Thursday against Stanford. Was out the first time Cal and Utah met in SLC. Just adds another long and athletic scorer on the perimeter to compliment Allen.


Yeah, but they have that really tall influencer out this game Now that we are in Berkeley. What was the name? Oh yeah, ELEVATION.

The elevation on the back end of a mountain trip is huge. After pushing Colorado in our first game I suspect we may have been less chippy than normal. I'd be interested to see some stats on what the winning percentage is for teams playing on the back end of the Colorado/Utah trip vs the front end.

Interesting. Although the back end is probably tougher on any road trip, I figure the front end would be the tougher of the two at altitude due to acclimation.
Reportedly it takes ~ 2 weeks to fully acclimate to high altitude. Trade off of small amount of acclimatization and exhaustion from first gamenot sure which wins.
OdontoBear66
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But the oddsmakers at 1 point. One thin point, after a 15 point loss a few weeks back. Wow. Someone is liking Cal as much as we do with possible inflated expectations. That was a great win Thursday night. Loved every minute of it, but I didn't like the matchups in Salt Lake against Utah and still don't. I think they are one of the worst teams in the Pac for us the match up against.
oskidunker
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We pack the middle maybe zone and hope the outside shooting fails. Often times this happens look at Colorado.
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