Cal leads the nation in 2-point field-goal percentage defense, which will come in handy Wednesday night at Utah. Sophomore 7-footer Jakob Poeltl averages 16.9 points for the Utes, and every one of his 193 shot attempts has come from 2-point distance.
Tipoff is 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Bears (14-6, 4-3 Pac-12) and Utes (15-5, 4-3) are part of a six-team mess in third place in the conference standings, one game back of co-leaders Oregon and Washington.
The challenge for the Bears will be to defend the Utes as effectively as they did on Jan. 3 in Berkeley, when they scored a 71-58 victory.
And, of course, to figure out how to do it on the road.
Cal, 13-0 at home after sweeping the Oregon schools, has won just once outside the Berkeley city limits this season. At least it was another Mountain Time Zone game – a 78-72 win at Wyoming back on Dec. 5.
The Bears held Utah to 38.5 percent shooting in the first meeting, and did a solid job on Poeltl, projected as a first-round NBA draft pick. He scored 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting, but did not take over the game.
Coach Cuonzo Martin said slowing down Poeltl is easier said than done because he “impacts the game in so many ways.” Poeltl is coming off a 29-point, 10-rebound effort in the Utes’ 80-75 overtime win at Washington.
Cal’s tag-team 7-foot duo of Kingsley Okoroh and Kam Rooks will once more use their length – and their fouls – to try keeping Poeltl off balance.
“I thought Kam and King did a really good job of just being big and making him take tough shots,” Martin said. “You can’t let him get low post easy catches. You have to make him to go his second and third options.”