Game Preview- Utah at Stanford

The Utes head out on the road looking for a win in Palo Alto

Facts and Factors

Utah (4-11, 1-2 Pac-12) at Stanford (13-3, 3-1 Pac-12)
Thursday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m. MT
Palo Alto, Calif.
Maples Pavilion

Thursday's game at Stanford will be the 22nd meeting between the two schools. Utah leads the all-time series, 14-7, including a 2-4 record on Stanford's home floor.

The last time the Utes and Cardinal met, Utah won an 82-77 decision in overtime in the Sweet 16 on Mar. 20, 1997. Stanford's last victory in the series was an 80-71 win in Palo Alto on Jan. 20, 1973.

Utah's leading scorer is Josh "Jiggy" Watkins, at 15.6 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Pac-12 conference (including all games). He also tops the Utes in assists with 4.9 helpers per contest, which is second-best in the Pac-12. Jason Washburn is Utah's top rebounder at 6.9 boards per game and second-leading scorer with 10.8 points per contest.

The Utes are coming off a split of last weekend's games, their first Pac-12 home contests, as they defeated Washington State in overtime, 62-60, then were edged by Washington, 57-53.

Stanford's top scorer and rebounder is Josh Owens at 13.0 points per game to go with 6.1 boards. Aaron Bright is the Cardinal's second-leading scorer at 12.5 points per contest and tops the team in assists with 3.3 per game.

Stanford is coming off a road split as the Cardinal fell at Oregon, 78-67, then defeated Oregon State, 103-101 in four overtimes.

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UTAH
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NOTES, QUOTES
--Senior G Josh Watkins made the season's biggest shot with his game-winner with 3.3 seconds left in overtime against Washington State. "At the end, my guy was just trying to overplay me, and all I had to do was stop, rise up and hit that shot. My guy just went flying by," Watkins said.
--Utah could not stop Cougars PF Brock Motum, who made 10 of 12 shots and scored 27 points. However, the Utes limited the rest of his teammates to 11-for-36 shooting.
--The Utes struggled offensively against Washington, shooting 37 percent from the field and 4-for-14 from 3-point arc.

BY THE NUMBERS
57 -- Points Utah allowed in its four-point defeat to Washington, the fewest it had surrendered in a game this season. The previous low was 58 in the season-opening win over San Diego Christian.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Wow, we experienced the two ends of the spectrum the last two games, but this definitely feels really good and means a lot to our guys." -- Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, whose team followed a 44-point loss at Colorado with an overtime win over Washington State.

KEY MATCHUPS
The Utes need a strong performance from C Jason Washburn, who will be swallowed up by a forest of huge Stanford frontcourt players. Stanford will be anxious to reassert itself at home after a challenging trip to Oregon. Then there's some unfinished 16-year-old history: Utah leads the all-time series 14-7 and prevailed in the most recent and most important match, winning 82-77 in overtime in the 1996 national semifinals.

FUTURES MARKET
Sophomore F Javon Dawson came off the bench to make subtle contributions in the Utes' games vs. Washington State and Washington. He had four points in 22 minutes against the Cougars, then five points and six rebounds in 20 minutes vs. Washington. It was the most playing time he's gotten in consecutive games this season and perhaps the sign of things to come.

PLAYER NOTES
--Junior C Jason Washburn contributed 11 points to the win over Washington State, then was held to six points and seven rebounds in the loss to Washington. That was his lowest point total since scoring four in a Nov. 24 loss to Harvard.
--Junior F Dijon Farr had 10 points, five rebounds and two steals against Washington State before fouling out in regulation. It was Farr's fourth double-digit scoring game this season.
--Junior G Cedric Martin scored 11 points against Washington, including a 3-point basket with 10 seconds left that pulled the Utes within 55-53.

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STANFORD
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NOTES, QUOTES
--Stanford made just eight of 25 shots from 3-point range in its 76-67 loss at Oregon, then converted 13 of 28 deep at Oregon State. Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle each made four 3-pointers against the Beavers.
--The Cardinal outlasted Oregon State despite having 11 shots blocked, a school record by the Beavers.
--Junior G Gabriel Harris will miss the remainder of the season due to knee surgery. Harris averaged 3.6 points through the team's first 12 games.

BY THE NUMBERS
92 -- Stanford's field-goal attempts total in the four-overtime win at Oregon State.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"We were going to wait till we won, however long it took. Glad it's a win." -- Sophomore F Dwight Powell, after the four-overtime victory at Oregon State.

KEY MATCHUPS
This will be the first rematch of these teams since the Utes beat Stanford 82-77 in overtime in the 1996 national semifinals. Stanford has won just seven of 21 all-time meetings but should be too big inside for the Utes. Defensively, Stanford must hone in on G Josh Watkins, Utah's most dependable offensive threat.

FUTURES MARKET
Hobbled much of the season by ankle and heel injuries, sophomore F Dwight Powell fought through that for one of his best performances of the season at Oregon State -- certainly his gutsiest. Powell came off the bench to provide the Cardinal 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in Stanford's four-overtime win. He played 38 minutes and was visibly limping after the game, but it was a performance Powell can build on and demonstrated some fire that often seems absent from his game. The Cardinal would love to see this Dwight Powell on a nightly basis.

PLAYER NOTES
--Sophomore G Aaron Bright had 18 points and six assists and made four of five 3-pointers at Oregon State before fouling out in the third overtime. Bright had 14 points and five assists in the loss at Oregon.
--Senior F Josh Owens scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half against Oregon, then had 16 points, 11 rebounds and three steals in the marathon at Oregon State.
--Sophomore G Anthony Brown had 11 points against Oregon State, none bigger than his 3-pointer with 15.4 seconds left in the third overtime that forced one final five-minute period. He also had eight rebounds and three steals.

Prediction

Stanford is a fringe NCAA tournament team right now, while Utah is not. The Utes looked drastically improved last weekend against Washington State and Washington, but that was in the friendly confines of the Huntsman Center. Utah may be righting the ship somewhat, but they don't have the juice to stay close to a Stanford squad that might win the conference.

Stanford 71 Utah 50

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