Game Preview- Utah at California

Utah looks to pick up their first road win of the season against the conference favorite...

Utah (4-12, 1-3 Pac-12) at California (14-4, 4-1 Pac-12)
Saturday, Jan. 14, 8:30 p.m. MT
Berkeley, Calif.
Haas Pavilion

Facts and Factors
• Saturday's game at California will be the 18th meeting between the two schools. Utah trails the all-time series, 9-8, with a 2-4 record on Cal's home floor.

• The last time the Utes and Golden Bears met, Utah dropped a 72-69 decision on a last-second 3-pointer in Salt Lake City in 2008. Utah had won the previous two match-ups, including a 67-65 victory in Berkeley in 2007.

• Utah's leading scorer is Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, at 15.7 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Pac-12 Conference (including all games). He also tops the Utes in assists with 4.9 helpers per contest, which is second-best in the Pac-12. Jason Washburn is Utah's top rebounder at 6.6 boards per game and second-leading scorer with 10.6 points per contest.

• The Utes are coming off a hard-fought loss at Stanford, 68-65, that saw the Utes miss a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired. In Utah's last three games, the total margin of victory for the respective winners is nine points.

• California's top scorer is Allen Crabbe, who averages 16.1 points per game. Richard Solomon leads the team in rebounds with 6.3 per contest and Justin Cobbs tops the Golden Bears in assists with 4.6 per game.

• California is coming off a 57-50 home victory against Colorado, winning its second straight game and improving to 12-0 at home this season.

• Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak played his collegiate basketball at Montana under current California head coach Mike Montgomery (1982-86).

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CALIFORNIA
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ON THE SPOT:
The Bears' perimeter threesome of Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs must recover from what was collectively their poorest offensive performance of the season. The three shot a combined 7-for-35 and totaled 26 points Thursday -- barely half their normal output.
Coach Mike Montgomery said the Buffaloes' solid man-to-man defense "got in our heads a little bit," he but also said the Bears did not move well without the ball, never giving themselves open shots.

KEY MATCHUPS:
The Utes' one big offensive threat is senior G Josh Watkins, who scored 20 points in Utah's home victory Jan. 5 over Washington State. Cal coach Mike Montgomery will face off against one of his long-ago Montana players, Larry Krystkowiak, the Utes' first-year coach. If Cal comes to play, this should be no contest.

FUTURES MARKET:
Freshman F David Kravish continues to deliver effective, understated performances for the Bears. Kravish had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists in the Bears' loss at Oregon State, his second straight double-digit scoring game. At 6-foot-9 and perhaps 210 pounds, Kravish is physically underwhelming, but he has a nice understanding of the game, seems to be in the right place most of the time, has good hands and a quick release.

PLAYER NOTES
--Senior SG Jorge Gutierrez had his worst offensive game of the season against the Buffaloes. He shot 2-for-17 from the floor and scored a season-low five points. He scored a combined 44 points in two games a week ago.
--Sophomore PG Justin Cobbs struggled through a tough 3-for-9 shooting night against Colorado, but he finished with 12 points and five rebounds. He scored seven of his points in the final 12 minutes.
--Junior backup PG Brandon Smith missed his second straight game Thursday with a concussion he suffered seven nights earlier in the final minute of a loss at Oregon State. He said before the Colorado game that he was feeling fine, but he did not pass the mandatory concussion test.
--Senior SG Jorge Gutierrez had a game-high 26 points at Oregon State, becoming the 40th Cal player to top 1,000 career points. He also had four assists and two steals in the game. He carried the Bears early at Oregon, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

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UTAH
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ON THE SPOT:
First-year Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak has the tough chore of making sure his team understands that to win in the Pac-12, it probably will have to win ugly. "We need to keep the tempo in our favor," he said. "We have to be really disciplined and do a great job defensively. We can't turn it over and take bad shots." Utah has done a much better job of sticking to that list the past two weeks, which is why a win has come and two losses have been tight.

BY THE NUMBERS:
57 -- Points Utah allowed in its four-point defeat to Washington, the fewest it had surrendered in a game this season. The previous low was 58 in the season-opening win over San Diego Christian.

KEY MATCHUPS:
The Utes must contend with Cal's excellent perimeter trio of Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, who combine to average nearly 43 points per game. Cal won 72-69 in the most recent matchup in 2008-09 and holds a 9-8 all-time lead. The game will be at Haas Pavilion, where the Bears won their first 11 games this season.

FUTURES MARKET:
Sophomore F Javon Dawson came off the bench to make subtle contributions in the Utes' games vs. Washington State and Washington. He had four points in 22 minutes against the Cougars, then five points and six rebounds in 20 minutes vs. Washington. It was the most playing time he's gotten in consecutive games this season and perhaps the sign of things to come.

PLAYER NOTES
--Junior G Chris Hines played his best game this season, scoring a career-high 21 points against Stanford. What's it say when a team's best shooter can be a guy with a broken thumb? It sure was impressive. He had not scored more than eight points in a game since breaking his left thumb against BYU on Dec. 10. But at Stanford, he had 11 by halftime and finished the game 9-for-17 from the field and 3-for-10 from 3-point range.
--It doesn't get much worse than this: Stanford and Utah were a combined 6-for-26 from the foul line -- yes, free-throw shooting -- in Thursday's game. The Utes made just one of nine, while Stanford went 5-for-17. Senior G Josh Watkins hit just one of five.
--Junior C Jason Washburn contributed 11 points to the win over Washington State, then was held to six points and seven rebounds in the loss to Washington. That was his lowest point total since he scored four in a Nov. 24 loss to Harvard.

Prediction

I believe... Not enough to give the Utes a victory here, but I believe enough to think that they'll make it a game. While Hines and Watkins put up points from the outside, Utah won't get enough inside to off-set the number Crabbe and Gutierrez put up. The Utes will hang around for a bit, but Cal is the best team in the conference and will hold off Utah down the stretch.

Cal 71 Utah 60

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