Kelley L. Cox / USA TODAY Sports

RECAP: Cal sprints out to early lead, but needs Jabari Bird's late heroics to hold off Utah

Jabari Bird scores 12 of his gam-high 26 points after regulation, and 10 in the second overtime to deal Utah a 77-75 loss at Haas Pavilion.

BERKELEY -- For 49:57.9, California and Utah fought to see who wanted to win Thursday night's game less. The Utes missed easy shots, the Bears went 12-of-20 from the free throw line and the officials seemed perfectly content wth never seeing their families again. 

In the dregs of the second overtime, though, Cal senior Jabari Bird had had quite enough, thank you, scoring seven straight points for the Bears, including a two-handed dunk off a pass from a driving Charlie Moore that sealed a 77-75 win.

"The shot clock was going down, coach told me and Ivan [Rabb] to get in the screen and roll, and I got through the middle of the lane, and I saw Bird do a hard cut," Moore said.

"The middle of the lane just opened up like the Red Sea," Bird said. "Once I saw the lane opened up, and I committed to the backdoor, [Moore] made a great play and found me."

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1752251-cuonzo-martin-talk...Moore had the chance to win things with three seconds left in regulation, but hit the front end of a one-and-one, missing the back, sending the game to extra time tied at 55-55. Senior Stephen Domingo had a chance to finish things off after one extra frame, as the ball inexplicably went to the man who had hit just three of his last 15. His three-point try at the buzzer didn't even hit the rim.

Finally, Bird came alive in the second overtime, scoring 12 of his game-high (and career-high) 26 points after the first 40 minutes, and 10 of those in the second overtime. Bird went 5-of-6 shooting after regulation, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

"I was just staying aggressive, and my teammates did a good job of finding me," Bird said. "I was coming off the ball screens, looking to getting into the seams and making plays ... I was just trying to take what the defense was giving me. The coaches on the side kept telling me to get into the seams and attack, because it was there. I put my head down and got to the middle of the lane, and I started hitting some more shots."

The Utes (15-7, 6-4 in Pac-12) came in to Thursday's tilt against the Bears averaging 13.3 turnovers per game -- 172nd out of 351 Division I basketball teams -- almost squarely in the middle of the pack. The Utes, though, turned the ball over six times in the first six minutes against the Bears, who went on an 8-0 run to open the game. In the first half, Cal had five steals -- more than the Bears' 4.6-per-game average on the season. Cal didn't trail until 6:05 in the second half, and from that point on, the Bears wilted.

The Bears gave up 15 offensive rebounds, and 19 second chance points on the night. Cal was out-rebounded 47-41, losing the battle on the boards for just the second time this season (vs. Arizona).

"In the zone, we gave up four or five offensive rebounds in the zone," Martin said. "The zone has really helped us, but I would rather play man, but when you have key guys in foul trouble, you have to protect them. We went to it because we had to."

For the first five minutes, Moore (17 points, 7 assists) was the perfect distributor, and though he only had one assist in that span, he set the table for Ivan Rabb (12 points, 14 rebounds), driving to draw the defense and then under-handing to Rabb for an easy lay-in with 15:18 to go. Moore then picked up a pass from Bird, who had trapped and turned over Devon Daniels on the far sideline, and took it all the way to the hoop, before passing back to Rabb for a left-handed lay-in.

But, with a poor shot on his next possession, Moore faded a bit, and so did Rabb's production. After the first six minutes, Rabb had just one shot for the rest of the first half. Moore and Grant Mullins took the lion's share of the looks, going a combined 6-for-17, while the rest of the team went 8-for-16 en route to a 34-26 halftime lead.

"The zone, the triangle two, it made it tough to get the ball to Ivan, and I would do the same thing -- make someone else beat me, besides Ivan Rabb," said Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin

The Bears held the Utes to just 11-of-27 shooting in the first half, and scored 11 points off of 10 turnovers, while the Utes' second-leading scorer, David Collette (14.3 ppg), played just five minutes and went 0-for-1, picking up two quick fouls.

Then, once the second half dawned, things began to turn. At one point in the first half, the Bears had a 9-0 points-off-turnover advantage, but by 13:13 in the second half, it was 11-11, as Utah began to peck away. For 4:27, Cal went without a field goal, as Utah pulled to within one, down 40-39 -- as close as the game had been since Moore started the game with a pair of buckets to give the Bears a 5-0 lead out of the gate.

Then, Moore shook out of his slumber, picking Kyle Kuzma's pocket and pushing the ball up to Bird for an open three with 11:47 to go in the second half, giving the Bears a 45-41 lead.

The Bears kept pace, as Moore kept the ball on a string with two back-to-back behind-the-back moves before lobbing an alley-oop to a leaping Bird to make it 47-43 with 10:47 to go.

A post bucket by Collette and a free throw by Sedrick Barefield evened things up fro the first time with 9:13 to go, but a Rabb jumper got the Bears on top again. But, after going to Rabb, Cal went right back to what didn't work in the first half, as Moore missed a three and Utah tied things back up with a jumper by Lorenzo Bonam.

A pair of free throw makes by Collette with 6:05 to go gave the Utes their first lead of the game, as Cal went without a field goal for 3:54. Utah built up a 55-52 lead thanks to post play, with Collette and Kuzma scoring 10 of Utah's 12 points from 13:57 to 3:21 of the second half.

"I think Kuzma got offensive rebounds and made plays," Martin said. "He got offensive rebound or dump-offs to score the ball. Collette, he got dump-offs in the post and made plays. You play percentages, and you don't allow the perimeter guys to make plays."

Bird, though, hit a three to get Cal back on its feet, and after a charge on Collette, came back to hit a reverse lay-up to get the Bears to within one, down 55-54, when Martin called a time out with 1:46 to go in the second half, following Bird holding off Bonam and an airball by Collette, who finished with 14 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

With 23 seconds to go, Rabb came up with a block on Bonam on the right block, leading to a Sam Singer run-out, and a time out right in front of the Cal bench.

With three seconds left, Moore was fouled as he slipped on the right block, driving to the basket, and after hitting his first free throw to tie things up at 55-55, missed the back half of the one-and-one. The rebound went off the chest of Kuzma, but after a five-minute review by officials, the ball was called for Utah. Rabb staunchly defended the in-bound, forcing a high-and-outside pass to halfcourt, which was picked off by Bird, sending the game into overtime.

Martin wanted to put Dontae Coleman on the court, but also wants him "at 100 percent," physically, and Martin said "we need him at the level where we're not worried about that again," after Coleman fell on his back against Washington State. Martin held Coleman out against the Utes. 


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