Utah’s men’s basketball team is on a roll.
The Runnin’ Utes entered Thursday’s contest at California riding a two-game winning streak and after 40 minutes of basketball played in Berkley, that streak has grown by one.
Utah defeated California 76-75 and improved 9-7 overall and 6-6 in the Pac-12 this season.
The current three-game winning streak is the Utes’ longest this season, surpassing a two-game streak to start the 2020-21 season and another one in mid-December.
Here are three keys to the Utes’ win over the Golden Bears:
A strong first half
Utah was by far the better team in the first half, particularly late, and built a sizable enough lead to withstand the Golden Bears’ best efforts in the second half.
Utah shot 57.7% from the field through the opening 20 minutes, including 55.6% from 3-point range. Alfonso Plummer led the way from outside, per the usual, as the Utes hit 3 of 6 3-point attempts. Timmy Allen led Utah on the whole with 14 first half points.
All that was enough for Utah to enter the break with a 42-32 lead.
Success of the starting five
Speaking of Allen and Plummer, they were part of what proved to be a very effective Utah starting five. Allen finished with a team-high 18 points to lead the way, but Brandon Carlsen added 13 points, while Pelle Larsson added 11 points, including a team-best three assists.
Mikael Jantunen scored six points himself and also finished with three assists, while Plummer finished with nine points. All told, Utah’s starters scored 75% of the Utes’ points, or in other words, 57 of the 76.
The efforts of certain highly-touted freshman
The only non-starter to have a sizable impact Thursday was freshman Ian Martinez. The highly-touted prospect had arguably his best game as Ute and finished with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
Martinez was on the floor late in the game and came through in the clutch when needed. He drilled a pair of free throws with two minutes remaining and was the only Ute other than Allen to score in the game’s waning minutes.