Second time was the charm for the Runnin’ Utes as they beat Stanford in the Huntsman Center 96-74 on Saturday.
The last time the Utes faced the Cardinal, they lost in overtime after missing four free throws in the final minute of regulation. This time, Utah used free throws to its advantage and was 32-of-42 from the stripe.
Kyle Kuzma, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds, is glad the team was able to get back at the Cardinal for that loss.
“We buckled down today,” Kuzma said. “It was sweet revenge getting after them.”
Although head coach Larry Krystkowiak wouldn’t necessarily say this was a revenge game, he’s happy his team came out on top. They still had a few of the same issues — the Utes had 15 turnovers — but they cleaned it up for the most part and played with confidence.
“The nemesis at Stanford was, I thought, we put so much pressure on ourselves with two things, turning the ball over 19 times, and then we gave up 14 offensive rebounds,” Krystkowiak said. “We were still too sloppy with the basketball, but we guarded much better at home.”
Utah had five players in double figures. Jakob Poeltl led all scorers with 23 points, had seven rebounds and was 13-of-15 from the line. Dakarai Tucker finished with 17 points, Brandon Taylor had 15 and Lorenzo Bonam had 14. Taylor also added seven rebounds and four assists, while Bonam had six rebounds and five assists.
Overall, the team was 59.6 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from three point range.
Opening up the game, the Utes turned the ball over twice on their first two possessions, but they managed to keep even with the Cardinal after Stanford failed to make anything of Utah’s sloppy play.
With a tie game at 8-8, Tucker nailed a three to get the crowd into it, and the Utes soon went up by five after Taylor scored. But when Poeltl went off the floor, Stanford got back in the game and took a one-point lead. Utah soon retook the lead with Poeltl back out on the court.
Jordan Loveridge made a three as the shot clock expired and made the score 32-27 with 6:30 left in the half. Tucker soon drove into the paint and scored a layup, giving the Utes a seven-point lead. Taylor made it 10 after a triple.
Taylor hustled on defense to get a steal after hitting the floor, then found an open Brekkott Chapman, who hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to 13 points. Stanford cut into this lead before the half ended, but Taylor managed to sink one more three-pointer, and the Utes led 48-39 going into the locker room.
Utah was shooting 70.8 percent from the floor and was 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.
“We came out hot because this is our home gym,” Taylor said. “It feels good to see some shots going in at home.”
Poeltl opened up the second half by getting an offensive foul and then a defensive foul in the first minute, his first two of the game. Utah worked its way to a 14-point lead, and as Stanford was fighting to come back, a double technical was assessed to Bonam and Stanford’s Michael Humphrey.
Stanford cut the lead to nine points when Poeltl was on the bench, but when he came back out on the court the Utes went back up by 14.
After a three-pointer from Taylor, Utah led 75-58. Stanford cut the lead to 12 points with 2:57 left to play but resorted to fouling to prevent Utah from holding the ball. Utah went on to make its free throws to secure the win.
Even with the improvement since the beginning of the season, Taylor knows there is a lot left to be said and done.
“We still got a long way to go,” Taylor said. “We know we still have a lot to prove, and we don’t want to settle it with this little five-game streak we have.”
The Utes will be on the road next week in Oregon.