- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Having already fallen short of upsetting one Top 25 team this season, California freshman Ivan Rabb wasn’t going to let another opportunity slip away from the Golden Bears.

Challenged by coach Cuonzo Martin to be more assertive on the offensive end, Rabb responded with the best game to keep California unbeaten at home.

Rabb scored 11 of his season-high 19 points in the final 6:45 and California beat No. 21 Utah 71-58 on Sunday night, handing the Utes their second straight loss.

Jordan Mathews added 14 points, hitting two late 3-pointers, and Tyrone Wallace had 10 points and six assists for the Bears (12-3, 2-0 Pac-12).

“I definitely was more aggressive, but I think it was more my teammates pushing me,” Rabb said. “Of course I will always hit the open man, but in this case I was trying to get a bucket or get to the free throw line.”

Jakob Poeltl led Utah (11-4, 0-2) with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Brandon Taylor added 15 points. The Utes were coming off an overtime loss at Stanford on Friday night.

“The guys hung in there I thought and managed to keep it in striking distance,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “The end of the first half and a nice little stretch up until the end of the game when it got away from us was decent. We were persistent and hung in there.”

After Utah cut it to 52-48 on Poeltla’s two free throws with 7:08 remaining, Rabb had a three-point play and Mathews followed with a 3-pointer. Brandon Taylor made two free throws for the Utes, but Rabb scored Cal’s next eight points, including a 16-foot turnaround jumper from the baseline as the Bears improved to 11-0 at Haas Pavilion.

“He has that skill,” Martin said about Rabb. “The difference is we challenged him from the standpoint of ‘We have to come to you with this ball. You have to be ready, you have to be aggressive, you have to be assertive.’ And he accepted the challenge.

“When he gets to the point where he demands the ball and he wants the ball every time down, it’ll be tough.”

The Utes were held to 22 points in the first 20 minutes and didn’t make their best run of the game until midway through the second half after falling behind by as much as 12.

But Utah couldn’t sustain the brief surge and made only three baskets over the final 8 minutes.

Cal built an early double-digit lead despite 7-foot starting center Kameron Rooks and 7-1 backup Kingsley Okoroh in foul trouble with three apiece.

With both big men on the bench late, though, the Utes took advantage and closed to 26-22 at halftime. Poeltl led Utah’s surge with five points - including three free throws - over the final 2:37.

TIP-INS

Utah: Kyle Kuzma left the game with 16:08 left to play after taking a hard fall when his attempted one-handed dunk was blocked by Okoroh. Kuzma limped off the court and finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. … The Utes missed six of their first seven 3-point shots. … Utah’s 22 points were the second-fewest it has scored in a first half this season.

California: Okoroh, coming off the best game of his career when he had 10 points and four blocked shots against Colorado, was in foul trouble most of the night and was held scoreless. He had five rebounds and three blocked shots. … Cal is giving up an average of 60 points over its past seven games.

SINGER STEPS UP: Bears point guard Tyrone Wallace was held to 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting but Martin credited backup Sam Singer for helping to keep Cal’s offense going. Singer scored six points in 14 minutes while going 3 of 5 from the floor. “He is a great stabilizer for us,” Martin said. “He does a lot of stuff that doesn’t really show up on the stat sheet, but he’s always moving the ball and always getting us together. He’s been great for us.”

UP NEXT

Utah: At Colorado on Friday night.

California: At Oregon on Wednesday night.

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