Two games in and two failures so far as Utah dropped to 0-2 in conference play following a loss to Cal at Haas Pavillion in Berkeley on SUnday evening.
In a game that was controlled by the Bears throughout, Utah was never able to find an offensive rhythm. A game that really needed to have, while shoring up their turnover issues, the Utes came out and handed it off to the Bears the first two offensive plays of the game. From there, it was a struggle, finishing the game at only 38% from the field, and a dreadful 16.7% from the three point line.
Jakob Poeltl finished with 19 and 10 on the night, but it was the toughest 19 of his career, battling aginst the size, bulk, and physicality of Cal, forcing him into a 6 for 14 night from the field. Outside of Poeltl, Utah really only got offensive contributions from Brandon Taylor (15 points), who hit some big shots, and Chris Reyes, who played sparingly, but still chipped in an efficient 8. The other 7 players that played? 14 point between them.
While the turnovers weren't really a problem for the game (ony 9), and the free throw issues went away (84%), the lack of offensive firepower, ability to finish at the rim, and only 6 offensive rebounds did the Utes again against a Cal defense that looks like it's one of the better groups in the country. Will this be a problem for Utah going forward in Pac 12 play as other long and athletic teams (think Arizona, UCLA, Washington) face off against the Utes? It's somethign Larry and company have to figure out, and figure out quickly with a trip to Colorado on the horizon.
Colorado isn't exactly a pushover with elite big-man Josh Scott in the middle. 0-2 makes a reguar season Pac 12 championship proposition dicey. 0-3 makes it nearly impossible, and won't help a team that is now looking more nd more like a bubble NCAA tournament squad. The ceiling is still high for the Runnin Utes, but if things don't come together quickly, March may end up being a month spent at hom.