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Senior forward Richard Solomon, the Pac-12′s leading rebounder, sat out with a concussion, but Cal won its NIT opener, beating Utah Valley 77-64 in front of 1,862 fans at Haas Pavilion.
The second-seeded Bears (20-13) advance to a second-round game Monday against No. 3 seed Arkansas. Tipoff is 8 p.m. at Haas. Cal beat the Razorbacks 85-77 in the Maui Invitational back on Nov. 25.
Coach Mike Montgomery said he hopes Solomon can play Monday.
David Kravish had 14 points, 10 rebounds and equaled his career high with five blocked shots.
Justin Cobbs had 13 points and seven assists and freshman Jabari Bird, inserted into the starting lineup, responded with 11 points.
Freshman Jordan Mathews scored 13 off the bench and senior Jeff Powers had 10 points.
Holton Hunsaker scored 22 points for the Wolverines (20-12), regular-season champions of the Western Athletic Conference.