In a game it needed to win to stay on pace for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, Stanford men’s basketball (13-8, 9-6 Pac-12) came out on top, 73-66, against Utah (9-8, 6-7 Pac-12) on Saturday. Sophomore guard Spencer Jones led the Cardinal with 17 points, going 5-for-9 from three-point range.
The Utes had gotten the best of Stanford in the teams’ January matchup at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. This time around, Utah was missing two starters: sophomore point guard Rylan Jones and sophomore forward Mikael Jantunen.
Junior forward Jaiden Delaire scored the first points of the game on a layup for Stanford, but it was all Utah for the few minutes that followed as the Utes went on a 12-0 run. Eight of those points came from senior guard Alfonso Plummer. It looked as though things were about to get out of hand, but a reverse layup from Delaire stopped the bleeding, and the Cardinal was able to claw its way back.
Senior forward Oscar da Silva, who has gained notoriety around the nation with his 19.2-points-per-game average, did not register his first points until the 9:57 mark. From there, Stanford picked up its defense, holding Utah without a basket for a six-minute stretch. The Cardinal took the lead on a fastbreak layup from freshman forward Ziaire Williams with 7:07 to play in the opening period in the midst of an 18-3 run and never looked back.
Stanford took a 34-22 lead into halftime after shooting 48.4% from the field. Utah was held to 30.8% from the floor and 25% from beyond the arc.
The Cardinal got off to a slow start at the beginning of the second half, but stretched its lead back to 12 when da Silva found Delaire for an open layup. Stanford then went on a run where it made seven of eight field goals, punctuated by Ziaire Williams’ back-to-back buckets with 13 minutes to go.
With 12:15 left in the second half, Jones’s third personal foul put Utah in the bonus. Foul trouble would prove to be an issue for the Cardinal for the remainder of the game.
Utah’s freshman guard Ian Martinez put his athleticism on full display as he blocked a shot on the defensive end and finished with a thunderous dunk on the other. Stanford’s freshman guard Michael O’Connell answered with three consecutive buckets of his own, stretching the lead to 16 with under 10 minutes to go.
The Utes continued to fight, and an 8-0 run brought the lead down to eight as the game approached the five-minute mark. With 4:08 to go, da Silva picked up his fifth personal foul and headed to the bench after putting up an efficient 13 points on 6-9 shooting.
Jones’ fifth three-pointer of the night pushed the Cardinal lead to 14, but a final Utah run brought the game within seven as it entered the final minute.
Despite multiple missed free throws down the stretch, Stanford was able to close out the Utes. Apart from Jones’ big game and da Silva’s consistent scoring, Delaire and O’Connell both chipped in 11 points, and senior guard Daejon Davis had seven in his first action since Jan. 16. Overall, it was a good shooting night for the Cardinal as the team went 54.4% from the field and 44.4% from three-point range.
Junior forward Timmy Allen paced Utah with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Next on Stanford’s schedule is a trip to Washington to take on a Huskies team that has lost five straight games. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. PST on Thursday.
Contact Ells Boone at eboone24 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Gavin McDonell at gavinmcd ‘at’ stanford.edu.