BERKELEY, Calif. — Stop us if you've heard this one before: "We didn't come out with enough energy," Justin Cobbs said of the slow start that Cal easily overcame Thursday night in a 64-46 rout of Utah in front of 7,091 fans at Haas Pavilion.
Yes, the Bears followed a familiar script-the kind that's been a source of frustration for coach Mike Montgomery — and still won their sixth straight game, their eighth in the past nine, to enhance their NCAA tournament status.
Cal won by margins of two points and one point to pull off a sweep in Oregon last weekend. This one looked like it was going to be 40 more minutes of nail-biting.
But the Bears (19-9, 11-5) ran off 21 consecutive points straddling both halves and won decisively to stay just one game out of first place in the Pac-12 standings.
Montgomery seems almost resigned to his team's mental approach. He talked earlier in the week about the Bears' inability to always focus well, and having already beaten the 10th-place Utes in Salt Lake City didn't exactly boost urgency.
"Our guys kind of react to stuff like that," Montgomery said. "Now we have only teams that have beaten us, so that should have their attention."
Cal closes the regular season with home games Saturday against Colorado and Wednesday against Stanford.
Cobbs, who had 12 points and seven assists against the Utes, conceded the Bears struggle sometimes with their approach to games.
"We have to kind of get down to get us going. It's not always the best thing," he said. "When we get down, we're able to sustain our energy. We don't always want to do that."
In the end, this one was no contest.
Only one of Cal's previous seven victories was by a double-digit margin, and four of them were by four points or fewer. The Utes (11-16, 3-12), who have lost nine games by seven points or fewer, could not keep this one as close.
Cal, which trailed 22-14 with just under seven minutes left in the first half, closed the period with a 15-0 run to take a 34-24 lead into the break. The margin reached 40-24 when Richard Solomon scored on a fast-break layup with 14:25 left.
The Utes went 10 minutes, 14 seconds without scoring, failing to convert on 16 straight possessions. They shot 0 for 13 with six turnovers during a drought that spanned more than one-fourth of the game.
Allen Crabbe led the Bears with 15 points, including four 3-point baskets, and grabbed 11 rebounds, and freshman Tyrone Wallace contributed 11 points. Cal's big men held Utah's Jordan Loveridge and Jason Washburn to a combined 5-for-19 shooting, as the Utes converted just 29 percent.