Utah gets help from unexpected contributor in 61-46 win over Cal
Utah, seriously undermanned with Gabe Madsen sidelined for the next few weeks and treading water in the postseason picture, was in desperate need of a win Sunday when it hosted Cal.
Not only did the Runnin’ Utes get a win, but they got some relief.
Jaxon Brenchley, a senior guard from Providence, emerged from the bench to give the Utes 26 minutes and 10 points in a 61-46 win over the Golden Bears. Brenchley drew a DNP-CD in 13 games so far this season, and he hadn’t played more than eight minutes in a game since Nov. 7.
“I thought he was outstanding and was really a great spark for us,” Utah coach Craig Smith said after the game, per The Salt Lake Tribune’s Josh Newman. “He’s clearly gotten better, but it just felt like our team, off the bench, needed some veteran experience, some real experience.”
The starters stayed the same on Sunday: Rollie Worster, Lazar Stefanovic, Marco Anthony, Ben Carlson, and Branden Carlson. Stefanovic played 39 minutes. Branden Carlson played 33 minutes.
The Runnin’ Utes are essentially running a six-man rotation with Brenchley off the bench. Wilguens Exacte Jr. got five first-half minutes and then just two in the second half. Keba Keita got four first-half minutes and three in the second half. Neither scored.
“We need to have a bench. Once you get to that conference tournament, you need a bench,” Smith said, per Newman.
And that makes Brenchley’s contributions all the more important. His 10 points were his first since the LIU game on Nov. 7.
Smith announced on Thursday that Madsen suffered a lower leg injury during the team’s loss to Oregon last Saturday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The Utes (16-9, 9-5 Pac-12) have six regular-season games remaining before the Pac-12 Tournament gets underway on March 8.