Stanford came into its regular season finale reeling from a non-effort in Boulder against Colorado. In the first half against Utah, the Cardinal looked far more like the team it wants to be, clamping down on a lethargic Utah team by holding the Utes to a 26% field goal percentage and only 12 points through the game’s first 12 minutes.
The Cardinal also returned its offensive focus on Reid Travis and got some hot shooting from Dorian Pickens. Pickens had nine points to lead the Cardinal at the break and Travis had seven on 3-5 shooting to go with six rebounds. Stanford went into halftime up 28-26.
The second half was a slog that saw Utah get both a four-point play off a Kyle Kuzma hand-off from a baseline inbounds play that turned into an open corner three when Humphrey and Travis couldn’t communicate or close out without fouling. The five-point play was even more brutal and really ripped the game from Stanford’s hands and squarely into the Utes’ control.
Lorenzo Bonam, playing his last game at home for the Utes, hit an open three from the left wing, and as he did so, Kuzma sprinted in from the opposite wing. Humphrey, on the weak side, turned to face guard Kuzma in an attempt to box him out, ended up chucking him with a forearm. Kuzma hit both free throws after a Cardinal time-out, and suddenly a 52-51 Cardinal lead was a 56-52 deficit, and that’s where things really got ugly.
Stanford responded with a tip-in from Humphrey, but a Bonam lay-up triggered lazy passes from Humphrey and Travis that were instantly converted into points and that 9-2 run effectively ended the game. Coach Haase got a technical foul by taking his jacket off in frustration, frustration I’d argue was 29 games in the making.
Stanford did get it down to 63-59 with 1:48 to go, but couldn’t secure a key rebound that helped Utah effectively bleed out the clock and escape with a 67-59 victory.
This was a frustrating end to a game in which there was no egregious failing by the team in a specific category. The Cardinal was only -6 from behind the three-point line, they were +4 in points off turnovers, they were -6 in points in the paint even without David Collette, who was injured and forced to leave the game in the first half.
Humphrey struggled all day long with fouls, though as usual he did mix in some solid plays. He finishes with seven points, five rebounds, five fouls, and four turnovers. Stanford needed more from Humphrey virtually all season long, and there is an extent to which the frustrating inconsistency Humphrey fought told the story of this team. It’s wrong to put an entire season on one guy’s shoulders, but it is fair to say that a player as talented as Humphrey was going to have to have a great year for Stanford to be competitive.
Stanford moves on to a likely 12 PM matchup with Arizona State in Vegas on Wednesday in the Pac-12 Tournament. If Washington State were to somehow beat UCLA in Pauley, Stanford would drop to the 10-seed and play Colorado Wednesday at 6 PM.