BERKELEY, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah men’s basketball team opened Pac-12 play 3-0 for the first time since 2014-15 after it pulled away against Cal, 58-43, Thursday night inside Haas Pavilion.
First half action saw the Utes shoot the ball well (.429) but only went up as much as 25-15 out of the 3:32 media break when Marco Anthony converted on the and-1 opportunity. However, Utah wasn’t able to take advantage of Cal’s stretch of seven-consecutive misses to increase their lead before heading into the locker room on top 27-18.
As well as Utah (10-4, 3-0 Pac-12) shot in the first half, the start of the second frame did not go as planned with the Runnin’ Utes shooting just 1-of-6 from the floor to let the Golden Bears get within 29-24 at the 15:57 media break. After watching their lead go down to 33-31 thanks to Cal opening the second half on a 13-5 run, Utah finally found its rhythm to go on a 7-0 spurt and push its lead back to 40-31 at the 11:48 mark. That run extended to a 13-0 for Utah after Gabe Madsen connected with Lazar Stefanovic on the near corner to put the Runnin’ Utes ahead 46-31.
The Golden Bears (1-13, 0-3 Pac-12) finally put an end to Utah’s scoring streak and ended their own scoring drought on the next possession before reeling off another 7-0 run to bring Utah’s lead back down to single-digits at the 8:28 mark (46-38). A defensive stop by the Utes a few sequences later saw Madsen dish it to Stefanovic for a huge 3-pointer that shifted the momentum back to the Utes.
Utah’s defense shined in its first of two road games, holding the Golden Bears without a field-goal in the final 8:28 minutes of play. The 43 points for Cal was the fewest points allowed by Utah in a league contest since 2018, which was also against the Golden Bears (43) and was also the fewest points allowed in a road game since 2015 at Oregon (37).
Stefanovic and Branden Carlson each tallied 11 points for the Utes on offense to pace the team. Marco Anthony chipped in with nine points, six rebounds and three assists while guarding Cal’s top offensive threat.
Anthony scored seven of his nine points in the first half and Stefanovic added six to help build a 27-18 halftime lead. Cal pulled within two points with 13:40 remaining. Wilguens Exacte Jr. and Stefanovic each made a 3-pointer during a 10-0 run and the Utes led 46-31 with 9:45 to play. Cal got within nine points but didn’t get closer.
The Utes, who made 16 3-pointers against Jacksonville State on Dec. 8., missed their first 11 attempts from long distance and finished 3 of 19 from beyond the arc against Cal, but they were 13 of 15 from the free-throw line.
The Utes stay in the Bay Area and head south across the bridge to close out their road swing with the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 1 p.m. (MT).