BERKELEY -- Three days after learning it wouldn't be playing in the NCAA tournament, Cal received more bad news.
Any sort of run in National Invitation Tournament would have to begin without the services of Richard Solomon, who was sidelined with a concussion.
But even with the senior forward watching from the bench, Cal had more than enough to beat Utah Valley 77-64 on Wednesday at Haas Pavilion in the tournament's first round in front of a crowd of 1,862.
Cal (20-13), a No. 2 seed in its region, will next host No. 3 Arkansas, which beat Indiana State 91-71 in its opener, in the second round Monday at 8 p.m.
The Bears already beat Arkansas 85-77 earlier this season at the Maui Invitational.
"It's a pretty good deal to be able to host a team like Arkansas in March," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "If you want to see athletes, come out here on Monday."
Whether the Bears will have Solomon back for the rematch is unclear. Montgomery said Solomon, who averages a double-double, sustained the concussion at home but wouldn't elaborate on how it happened.
Against No. 7 seed Utah Valley (20-12), which earned an automatic berth into the NIT by winning the regular-season WAC title, David Kravish picked up the slack inside, finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high-tying five blocks.
Five Cal players scored in double figures, including little-used senior Jeff Powers.
After playing a total of just 15 minutes in the Bears' previous 11 games, Powers scored 10 points in 21 minutes against the Wolverines. He also played a big role in an 11-0 run in the second half that helped Cal seize control for good by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers.
Jordan Mathews later hit two straight 3s that gave Cal its biggest lead of the night at 70-52 with 7:55 to play.
Mathews came off the bench to add 13 points and a career-high seven rebounds, and Justin Cobbs finished with 13 points and seven assists.
Freshman Jabari Bird made his first start since Dec. 22 in place of Solomon and had one of his more productive games in months, contributing 11 points and three assists.
"We played really well, moved the ball, everybody was loose," Kravish said. "We had fun out there, and I think that was a key to our success. Everyone was playing hard."
Five 3-pointers from the bench (seven total) and 53 percent shooting from the floor also helped.
"Had we not shot the ball so well, it could have been dicey," Montgomery said.
Utah Valley, making its first NIT appearance and second postseason trip at the Division I level, got the bulk of its scoring from guard Holton Hunsaker and center Ben Aird.
Hunsaker had 22 points and Aird added 19, but the Wolverines got just four points from their bench.
Arkansas (22-11) at Cal (20-13), 8 p.m. TV TBA