John Gage stays hot as Stanford men’s basketball rolls Utes

Jan. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Stanford won 87-56 at Utah on Sunday night, dismantling the worst team in the Pac-12 with the efficiency and precision of a master surgeon removing basic stitches.

(ROGER CHEN/The Stanford Daily)
Junior Dwight Powell had nine boards and scored 11 points as Stanford rolled the Utes. (ROGER CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford had a 12-2 lead early in the game, a 20-point lead at halftime, and a 29-point lead with seven minutes left in the game when all of their starters sat down to watch the bench players close out the game.

“Tonight we wanted to throw the first punch, and it worked out for us,” said sophomore guard Chasson Randle.

John Gage led the Cardinal (12-8, 3-4 Pac-12) with a career-high 19 points—the second time in eight days that he has set a career high in scoring—showing the potential to be a difference maker for Stanford’s sub-par offense.

Gage led the team in scoring despite playing only 17 minutes off of the bench for Stanford, which is eighth in the Pac-12 in points per game.

“He’s a terrific shooter, and he’s only gotten better over the years. I’m really proud of how hard he’s worked to improve his game,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins.

Utah had four quick turnovers to start the game, which led to eight Stanford points. The Utes took better care of the ball for the remainder of the half, but by the time they ended a five-minute scoring drought, Stanford had a commanding lead.

The Cardinal’s size advantage down low was key throughout the game. Stanford outrebounded Utah 43-27 while disrupting almost every shot in the paint, with junior forwards Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis pulling down 18 boards combined.

Powell in particular was a force early on, scoring several easy buckets in the first couple of minutes, including a tip-in off of his own miss. Randle, too, was efficient in the first half with two steals and seven points in the first six minutes without missing a shot.

The lightning quick start surprised what few fans were in attendance on Sunday night— the crowd’s official attendance was listed at 7,769 but a snowstorm appeared to leave plenty of empty seats. Stanford’s previous game was an embarrassing 21-point loss at Colorado in which they were thoroughly outplayed. In that bludgeoning, Stanford mustered only 54 points on 31 percent shooting from the field.

In a complete role reversal, Stanford put up a season high in points Sunday while shooting 50 percent from the field.  Four players had double-digit scoring nights, while all but one player on the roster recorded a point.

Gage, a junior who generally receives limited playing time, is making his case to be made a more prominent part of the rotation. Last Saturday against Cal he went a perfect 4-4 on three pointers to set a career-high in scoring. He matched that 14-point scoring total by the end of the first half against Colorado and went on to finish the game 4-4 from three-point range yet again.

The only real sign of life from Utah (9-11, 1-7) came at the onset of the second half when Jarred DuBois scored the first seven points for the Utes. While the lead was still 16, those were the first points of the game for either of Utah’s leading scorers.

It was merely a flash in the pan though. DuBois, Utah’s second leading scorer, finished the night with eight points. Jordan Loveridge, their top scorer, didn’t record a single point.

Stanford on the other hand, had scoring up and down the roster. After Dawkins emptied the bench in the final minutes, 12 of the 13 players who saw the court had at least one point. Huestis finished with 13, Powell had 11, Randle dropped 17 and senior Andy Brown scored seven.

In addition, sophomore Wade Morgan scored his first career point, an otherwise innocuous free throw with 44 seconds to play.

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