Card Can't Contain Utes

The Utes do what the Utes do best: win big at home. Stanford started well, but Utah took it from there.

Friday the 13th came a day early for Stanford men’s hoops.

In a game that only Jason Voorhees and Utes fans would love, Utah chainsawed the Cardinal in the second half, turning a close game into a 75-59 win over Stanford.

Anthony Brown led with 15 points, and Marcus Allen scored 13 points for the Cardinal (16-8, 7-5 Pac-12; RPI #44), who have dropped two of their last three games. For Utah (19-4, 9-2; AP #11) Delon Wright led with 15 points. Nine different Utes scored, much to the delight of Huntsman Center’s first sellout crowd in ten years.

“I was disappointed by how we finished the first half,” a flu-ridden Johnny Dawkins told the Cardinal Sports Network afterwards. “I thought we had opportunities to finish that half better, and they went on a good run. Then I was disappointed by how we started the second half.”

Indeed, Utah took complete control of the game with a wicked stretch to bridge both halves. A three by Brown tied the game at 27 apiece with 2:11 left in the first half, but Stanford spent the rest of the half committing four turnovers. Utah scored the final six points of the half, then rolled up a 15-2 run to start the second half. By the end of that sequence, the Utes led by 19, and the game was all but decided.

Despite the big lead, the Cardinal showed some life. They got stops, hit shots, and closed Utah’s lead to ten points. Stanford appeared to be on its way towards another stop, as Jordan Loveridge found himself with the ball and the shot clock running down. Loveridge heaved up the shot and made it, but replays confirmed that he still had the ball in his hands when the clock hit zero. Worse, the horn did not sound, and the backboard did not light up. Those details did not seem to matter to the officials, who called the shot legal and good. That gave Utah a 59-46 lead with 8:17 left, and Stanford never got closer.

“That was a big three for them,” Dawkins admitted. “But you can’t go back to the monitor and check those things at that stage of the game, so it makes it very difficult. I thought we had momentum at that time. That was a difficult blow for us.”

To be sure, that officiating failure did not cost Stanford the game. The bigger culprits were a lack of consistent three-point shooting (6-of-14), a lack of depth (more on this in a second), and a lack of answers defensively.

On top of that, this can be added: Chasson Randle’s struggles have gone from a blip on the radar screen to a full-blown trend. Randle went scoreless in the first half. He missed his first seven shots – not making a field goal until 6:23 remained and the game was out of reach – and shot 2-for-11 for the night. Over his last three games, Randle has launched 19 three-pointers, hitting just two.

“He had a tough night,” Dawkins said of Randle. “They had a game plan for him: a lot of double-teaming, some ball screens, and giving him a lot of attention. He had some looks that he normally makes. He didn’t make them tonight, and that’s unfortunate. He’s been going through this the last couple of games. He’ll bounce back from this, and be better from this experience.”

Stanford came into this critical game a man down, as the team announced before tipoff that Rosco Allen had not made the trip and would be out indefinitely with a lower back injury. With Rosco out, freshman Michael Humphrey got the start, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds.

“Mike showed a lot of promise,” Dawkins said. “He went out there, competed, and made the plays he’s capable of making. He was really on the offensive boards. He’s going to be a very good player in our program.”

Still, Rosco Allen's absence, combined with the Salt Lake City altitude, meant that Dawkins would have to reach deeper into the bench than normal. At one point in the first half, Stanford's five on the floor were Robert Cartwright, Christian Sanders, Humphrey, Brown, and Elliott Bullock.

In the first half, the Cardinal were not paced by Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic. Instead, Humphrey and Marcus Allen stepped to the fore. Humphrey did much of the work early as the Card built a 10-4 lead, hitting a jumper for Stanford’s first points, then tipping two more buckets in off Cardinal misses. Marcus Allen gave the Utes fits, particularly in transition.

But after Stanford’s good start, Utah started denying the Cardinal the second-chance opportunities that Stanford had largely built its advantage on. The Utes whittled Stanford’s lead to 12-10, then went on an 11-3 run of their own while the Cardinal missed eight of ten shots. And when the end of the first half turned into the Dallin Bachynski Show (eight of Utah’s final ten first-half points), Stanford turned it over four times in the final 1:57. Bachynski’s putback at the buzzer gave Utah the lead at the half, 33-27.

Stanford heads to Boulder for a Sunday meeting with Colorado (11-12, 4-7; RPI #110). On Thursday night, the Buffaloes dropped a 68-61 loss to suddenly red-hot California.

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