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No. 12 Utah holds off No. 24 Cal in OT
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jakob Poeltl scored 29 points and Lorenzo Bonam dribbled the length of the court to score at the buzzer in regulation, helping No. 12 Utah outlast No. 24 California 82-78 in overtime Friday night in the Pac-12 semifinals.
Cal (23-10) and Utah battled through a calculated, slow-paced game before trading baskets in the final minute of regulation.
Jabari Bird put the third-seeded Bears ahead 70-68 on a three-point play with 4.3 seconds left, but Bonam took the inbound pass and raced up the floor for the tying score.
The second-seeded Utes (26-7) took a five-point lead in overtime, but Tyrone Wallace hit a 3-pointer with 7.4 seconds left to pull the Bears within 80-78.
Jordan Loveridge hit two free throws after that, sealing Utah’s spot in Saturday night’s championship game against No. 8 Oregon.
Bonam scored all 18 of his points after halftime and Poeltl had 11 rebounds.
Wallace led Cal with 26 points.
Utah and Cal played two hard-fought games during the regular season, splitting the two.
The Bears won the first one at home 71-58 behind Ivan Raab’s 19-point, 10-rebound night. The Utes won the second 73-64 in Salt Lake City as Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma combined for 36 points and 14 rebounds.
Kuzma was the key in Utah’s Pac-12 quarterfinal win over Southern Cal, scoring 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting to end a four-game shooting slump.
Raab was the cornerstone to the Bears’ quarterfinal win over Oregon State, scoring 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
Utah jumped out early in the rubber match, but the Bears answered with a run of their own and the teams traded baskets the rest of the way. Cal led 37-33 behind Wallace’s 13 points.
The second half turned into a defensive struggle.
The Utes had trouble finishing at the rim and the Bears had trouble everywhere — except for Wallace.
The senior guard didn’t seem to mind having a hand in his face, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give Cal a seven-point lead with less than 7 minutes to go.
Poeltl kept the Utes in it, repeatedly backing the Bears down to shoot right at the rim.
Cal: Raab suffered a cut after falling into a couple of cameramen in the second half but stayed in the game after being treated. ... Jaylen Brown, the Pac-12 freshman of the year, had 12 points on 3-of-17 shooting after scoring eight on 1-of-6 shooting against Oregon State.
Utah: Kuzma was limited to five points on 2-of-4 shooting and appeared to be in the coaches’ doghouse after a shaky start to the game. ... Poeltl made 10 of 18 shots.
Cal awaits its NCAA Tournament fate on Selection Sunday.
Utah will face No. 8 Oregon in the championship game Saturday night.