Aside from a brief semblance of a competitive game midway through the first half, the University of Utah men’s basketball team (14-9, 6-6) rolled its way to a 75-60 win over the Stanford Cardinal (13-12, 7-5) in the Huntsman Center on Thursday, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Justin Bibbins had a team-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, and Sedrick Barefield followed with 17 points. Both Bibbins and Barefield chipped in with four assists as the team had 16-to-6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
David Collette was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field as he finished with 13 points, though he fouled out of the game at the 3:57 mark after being whistled for a technical following an emphatic reaction to a block on Stanford’s Josh Sharma.
“I got in trouble for showing emotion,” Collette said somewhat jokingly. “Apparently there’s no emotion in basketball.”
Utah finished shooting an even 50 percent from the floor, but head coach Larry Krystkowiak attributes his team’s offensive performance to its defense as Stanford only shot 35.8 percent from the field.
“I think sometimes if you really focus on playing defense, it’s a crazy thing in basketball, but there’s a correlation with sometimes that team doesn’t guard as you as hard, because you kind of steal their thunder,” Krystkowiak said.
Utah opened up the game 15-8 thanks to a strong showing on defense and a few good looks near the basket, but the Cardinal wasn’t ready to back down quite yet. Stanford crawled back to make it a 20-19 game, but it was to no avail as the Utes started clicking on offense immediately. Collette sparked a 14-2 Utah run after he made a layup as the Utes worked their way to a double digit lead, 36-22.
During that span and for nearly seven minutes, Stanford couldn’t hit a field goal — its four lone points during that duration came from the free throw line.
At the half, the Utes had a comfortable 12-point lead, 40-28.
One minute into the second half, Gabe Bealer hit a 3-pointer to extend the Utes’ lead to 15 points, and after the Cardinal responded with its own 3-pointer, Bealer was quick to give Utah another 15-point advantage, 46-31.
With less than 13 minutes left in the game, Dorian Pickens drained a 3-pointer for Stanford to make it a single-digit game, 53-44, but a three-point play from Collette put the Utes back up by 12 points. Utah had a steady handle of the rest of the night’s plays following those points.
Midway through the second half, a Collette dunk and a layup by Sedrick Barefield gave Utah a 62-44 lead, and the Utes kept rolling. A flurry of well-executed plays and hard drives to the basket gave Utah a 20+ point advantage — the Utes’ largest lead of the night was when they led by 23 points at the 9:10 mark — and Stanford was unable to bridge the gap as Utah went on to win by 15 points.
While there were mostly positives from the night, Krystkowiak is still not happy with his team’s efforts when it comes to rebounding. The Utes were out-rebounded once again as Stanford bested them 38-to-31. All in all though, Krystkowiak will take the win and the effort his players contributed.
“I think we got a boost playing at home,” Krystkowiak said. “It was solid all the way around.”
Up next, the Utes will face Cal on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.