Jan. 15, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Jorge Gutierrez may be California's best defender but the senior guard is proving he can add a little bit to the offensive end as well.
Two nights after the worst shooting performance of his career, Gutierrez was almost flawless against Utah after moving to point guard, scoring 15 points to go with six assists in the Golden Bears 81-45 win over Utah on Saturday night.
"Shots were open and we were making them," said Gutierrez, who went 7 of 9 from the floor while adding six assists. "I was a little frustrated the last game. It was just a bad night for me."
Gutierrez, Cal's second-leading scorer, took out his frustrations against Utah.
He had six points in the first half then made all four of his shots in the second half when the Bears pulled away. Gutierrez added six assists while Cal to the lopsided victory.
The win left the Bears tied with first-place Stanford in the Pac-12 with a Jan. 29 showdown between the two teams looming.
Gutierrez, Cal's shooting guard, moved to the point guard spot after Brandon Smith suffered a concussion against Oregon State on Jan. 5.
It worked well for the Bears, who handed the Utes their fifth loss in six games.
"We don't have much room for error and I don't think we played with the same intensity that we have been playing with," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We've got issues and we'll continue to get better but a lot of it has to do with who we are playing."
Justin Cobbs had 14 points and a career-high 11 assists, Harper Kamp added 14 points and six assists while Emerson Murray and Allen Crabbe had 10 points each for the streaking Golden Bears, who are unbeaten in 13 home games this season.
Cal (15-4, 5-1 Pac-12) stayed tied with Bay Area rival Stanford in the conference race.
"We got going a little bit and felt confident," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "Once we got (Josh) Watkins contained, that helped. We were more patient, we set better screens and we waited for people to get open."
Watkins led Utah (4-13, 1-4) with 15 points but was only 5 of 14 from the floor.
"We knew that he had the ball most of the time so if we stopped him we could stop the team from getting a lot of points," Gutierrez said.
The Bears, who have won three straight, led by as many as 39 and looked sharper offensively than they did two nights earlier when they struggled to beat Colorado.
Gutierrez provided the biggest spark after enduring the worst shooting night of his career when he went 2 for 17 against Colorado.
The Bears held on to win that game behind their defense, then came back to beat Utah by shooting 73 percent from the floor.
This time Gutierrez went 7 for 9 and added six assists while spearheading Cal's offense.
He also provided a boost defensively and helped hold Utah without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes. The Utes also committed 18 turnovers.
"I thought that was pretty disheartening," Krystkowiak said. "We had 18 turnovers but they only had four steals so those are errors that are mental errors. They weren't forced errors. I just don't think we were plugged in while playing an elite team here."
Utah led 7-6 early before Cobbs hit a 3-pointer as Cal pulled away for a 32-15 halftime lead. The Utes shot just 26 percent in the first half, committed 18 turnovers overall and had only one player reach double figures.
Cobbs helped contain Watkins, who was only 5 of 14 from the field and committed five turnovers.
The Bears pulled away in the second half, taking a 43-20 lead on a 3-pointer from Crabbe with 16:40 remaining.
Murray, who has been used sparingly this season, added a 3-pointer midway through the second half and Gutierrez followed with a short jumper to make it 55-29 with 9 minutes left.
That allowed Bears coach Mike Montgomery to empty his bench while Cal rolled to its fifth win in six games.
Cal has won 16 straight home games dating to 2010, the fourth-longest streak in school history.