Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin previews Utah

BERKELEY -- Utah looms on the horizon for a Cal team on the bubble.

BERKELEY -- A win for California (19-9, 10-6 in Pac-12) on Thursday over Utah (18-10, 9-7) would all but clinch a first-round bye for the Bears in the Pac-12 Tournament. Head coach Cuonzo Martin talks about the hostile Huntsman Center, turnovers and Charlie Moore's shot selection. Cal takes on the Utes on Thursday at 8 p.m., on ESPNU.

Utah ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 79.5 points per game, while the slow-tempo Bears are 10th in the league, at 69.6 points per game.

Cal is 300th in the nation in adjusted tempo (65.8 possessions per game), and 140th in adjusted offensive efficiency.

On the other side of the coin, Utah is running at its fastest pace under head coach Larry Krystkowiak, at an adjusted tempo of 69.5 possessions per game. The Utes are 128th in the nation in adjusted tempo, the highest a Krystkowiak team has ranked since his 2006 Montana team ranked 127th. Utah, under Krystkowiak -- a disciple of former Cal head coach Mike Montgomery -- has never ranked higher than 225th in the nation in adjusted tempo, and the Runnin' Utes' runnin'est year -- 2016 (66.5) got them only to 304th in the nation in adjusted tempo.

Defensively, the Bears are the No. 9 team in the nation, in terms of defensive efficiency, holding teams to an effective 44.1% field goal rate (fourth in the nation), and holding teams to pulling down 24.2% of offensive rebounds. Opponents are shooting 31.1% against Cal from inside the three-point line (19th) and 43% from inside the arc (11th).

Utah -- thanks to the inside play of Kyle Kuzma shooting 55.3% from inside the arc -- is shooting 57.6% on two-pointers, good for fifth in the nation. 6-foot-8 junior David Collette is shooting lights out inside the arc, at 61.0% -- good for 109th in the nation. Collette was a big factor in the last game between these two, where the Bears edged the Utes 77-75 in double overtime.

Collette played just five minutes and went 0-for-1 in the first half, getting two quick fouls, but with a clean slate in the second half, he went to work. With Collette on the floor, Utah ran sets out of the pick and roll. Kameron Rooks couldn't move his feet fast enough to keep up with the collapsing Collette, and just like that, Collette had six of Utah's first eight points of the half. 

Collette missed the first eight games of the season, and the trip to Washington from Jan. 18-21, but has played in the last nine. He's tallied double-digit point totals in every game he's played this season, and is 36-for-60 from the field over his last six.

Kuzma is 56th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, and 95th in offensive rebounding percentage. He missed the Utes' 79-61 loss to Oregon on Feb. 16 with an ankle injury, but has scored 44 points and pulled down 15 total rebounds in his last two games, going 15-for-25 from the field against Oregon State and Colorado.

Another issue facing Cal on Thursday will be the Utes' zone. Utah is primarily a man-defense team, but against the Bears, they used that zone to climb back into the game, after going down 34-26 at halftime. The zone stifled Ivan Rabb, but Jabari Bird found another gear, going off for 10 points in the second extra period.

Rabb has tallied double-doubles in six of his last eight games, and had 14 rebounds and 12 points against the Utes last time out.


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