Utah is seemingly back on track on defense ahead of hosting Colorado in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
The Utes (16-9, 9-5 Pac-12) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 61-46 victory over Cal on Sunday. Utah limited the Bears to 33.9 percent shooting from the floor, 23.5 percent (4 of 17) from 3-point range.
“I love how we guarded,” Utah coach Craig Smith said postgame. “I felt like we really, really guarded tonight and truly got back to who we are and what we are.”
The Utes rank among the nation’s leaders in scoring defense at 61.8 points per game, but their previous two foes had averaged 73 points.
Jaxon Brenchley gave Utah a rare lift off the bench, scoring a season-high 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes. Heading into the game, Brenchley had appeared in 11 contests this season and totaled just four points.
Brenchley rallied the Utes from an early 18-11 deficit. Once Utah got ahead, it stayed ahead by limiting the Bears to 28.6 percent shooting from the floor in the second half.
The Utes, meanwhile, made 10 of 31 shots (32.3 percent) from 3-point range for the game. For the first time all season, Utah has made at least 10 treys in back-to-back contests.
Colorado also generated some positive momentum ahead of the rivalry clash by dispatching Stanford 84-62 on Sunday. Tristan da Silva scored 25 points and KJ Simpson added 21 points to power the Buffaloes past the Cardinal.
Colorado (14-11, 6-8) has rattled off back-to-back wins after a stretch of five losses in six games.
da Silva, who has scored at least 20 points in five straight games, shot 9 of 14 from the field against Stanford. His effort helped the Buffaloes break open the game with a 16-0 run to start the second half.
The Cardinal had tied it up 39-39 at halftime, but they missed their first 10 field-goal attempts after halftime.
“Tristan is not a selfish guy. He’s a team guy,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “But he knows we need him to score, and our players know we need him to score. He’s just so steady out there.”
This is the first of two games between the teams this season. They will square off again on March 4 in Boulder, Colo., to conclude Pac-12 regular-season play.
–Field Level Media