The Utah Utes (11-4, 4-0 Pac-12) escaped the Maples Pavilion on New Year’s Eve with a 71-66 victory over the Stanford Cardinals (5-9, 0-4 Pac-12). This is the second time Stanford has started 0-4 in conference play during the tenure of head coach Jerod Haase on the farm.
A poor 3-point shooting performance saw the Cardinals fall into a hole early on. Stanford fumbled his 3-point attempts in his first eight and shot 25% of his shots from the field in his first 10 minutes of the game. The Youths, meanwhile, got off to a solid start offensively thanks to the play of center Branden Carlsson and guard Lazar Stefanovic. Despite quality play on both ends of the floor, the Utes kept Stanford out thanks to an early deficit in turnovers.
After facing a 10-point deficit, the Cardinals put together a short aggressive spurt midway through the half, cutting the lead into two possessions multiple times. However, Stanford resumed attacking play, scoring only one point in the final 5:10 seconds of the first half. The team was just off the field as he finished the half with 34.5% shooting, but Utes had an impressive 60% shooting. At halftime, Utah led by a score of 30-23. Sophomore forward Harrison Ingram led the Cardinals with his seven points, followed by graduate guard Michael Jones with his six. In Jutos, Carlsson led all scorers with his 11 points, while Stefanovic scored his eight.
“I thought a lot of the looks we had were clean looks and good shooters,” Haase said after the game. “We wanted to attack the paint.
The beginning of the second half featured more of the same story as the first half. Utah kept the rim looking clean while tightening its half-court defense. Cardinal remained cold off the floor, struggling inside and outside the arc. Utes were able to extend their lead to 16 early in the first half. Carlson and Stefanovic continued to be Utah’s offensive catalysts, scoring 18 and 20 for him respectively.
“He’s a good three-point shooter, he can put the ball on the ground a little bit, he can score goals on the inside and he’s a great offensive rebounder,” Hase said of Carlsson after the game. “It’s no surprise he did well, but he was a little disappointed that he couldn’t have been a little more efficient in defending him.”
However, the tide began to turn when the Cardinals began to stroke the ball from the three-point line.
Senior forward Spencer Jones said, “For most shooters, seeing them go through the net gives them a little bit of confidence.” .”
The team hit five 3s in four minutes, reducing Utah’s cushion to six with 3:21 remaining, and within 45 seconds Stanford was able to cut to a two-point game. However, fouls on back-to-back possessions pushed Ute back to 6 with 1:29 in the game.
From there, Utah hit a clutch free throw to take their fourth consecutive win in conference play.
Stanford then head across the bay to battle the struggling Cal Golden Bears (1-14, 0-4 Pac-12). Both teams are aiming for their first conference victory of the year, furthering an already competitive rivalry.
Tip-off begins at 8:00 PM PT on Friday at the Hearth Pavilion.