Runnin’ Utes End Four Game Losing Streak With Big Win Over Stanford

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University of Utah junior forward Timmy Allen (1) goes for a layup during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the Stanford Cardinals at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah men’s basketball team shocked the Stanford Cardinal at home on Thursday, ending their four-game losing streak and walking away with a 79-65 victory.

First Half

The competition was fairly even to begin against the Cardinal — throughout the first few minutes, both teams were able to find the basket, and the score was locked at 11 with 13 minutes left in the first half. Despite some hot shooting from the Utes, turnovers plagued Utah early, as five of Stanford’s 11 points were a result of Utah being careless with the basketball.

Despite Utah shooting 55% from the floor (6-11) to Stanford’s 25% (3-12) to begin the game, the Cardinals were able to generate quite a few second-chance points with four offensive rebounds. This kept things close as Utah led 15-11 through the first ten minutes of play.

While Stanford went nearly seven minutes without a field goal, Ziaire Williams was able to get the Cardinal back on track with back-to-back three-pointers, cutting Utah’s lead to just one point, 19-18.

Utah’s shooting went ice cold as they went nearly five minutes without a field goal. Similar to the game against USC, the Utes struggled to hit open shots and were often shooting late into the shot clock.

But lucky for Utah, Timmy Allen came to play and fueled a 14-2 run over the last four minutes as Stanford couldn’t buy a bucket. Allen finished the half with 15 points and four rebounds as the Utes held a 34-25 lead over the Cardinal.

Second Half

Utah finally broke out of their poor second half starts as they came out of the locker room on fire. With contributions from Rylan Jones, Mikael Jantunen and Allen, the Utes put together a 10-3 run and extended the lead to 44-28.

“I think sometimes it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I mentioned after the Colorado game that it would be really nice maybe if we didn’t have as long of a halftime,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “I kept it real short, we had a couple of adjustments defensively, drew up a couple of the plays that were hurting us, talked about what our plan would be on offense, and we sent the guys out there.”

Over the course of the next few minutes turnovers and fouls led to a scoring drought for both teams as neither scored for nearly three minutes. The Cardinal got into some serious foul trouble as starter Ziaire Williams was forced to sit early with four and Oscar da Silva with three. 

Allen continued his dominant performance into the second half as he continually attacked the basket and was able to draw a lot of shooting fouls. He would finish the night 10-12 from the charity stripe, which was a major boost for the Utes.

But Stanford wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Over a two minute stretch just past the halfway point of the second, the Cardinal put together a 9-0 run led by Daejon Davis. Davis played suffocating defense and attacked the basket with veracity in transition on the other end. 

Alfonso Plummer got hot from the floor, especially down the stretch as he increased Utah’s lead to 15 with consecutive baskets. His step-back-jumper proved nearly impossible to guard as he would dribble around defenders and then create extra shooting space to drill home the fade-away jumper.

Utah finished the game strong as they continued to attack the basket and were able to force three Stanford players to foul out of the game. Their hustle also led to easy points at the basket including a monster dunk by Branden Carlson in the last few minutes. The Utes hard work finally paid off as they ran Stanford out of the Huntsman Center with a final score of 79-65.

“The happiness and the thrill is for those guys that are across the hall in that locker room,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s a resilient group. For them to stay in the fight, I thought they showed a lot of toughness and perseverance, ya know, all of those words, which are really important to me.”

Performance of the Game

Yet again, Timmy Allen was magnificent for the Utes as he led the team in scoring with 22 points. He continually attacked the rim, drawing fouls and cashing in on free throws. Allen also grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists, making his presence felt all over the floor.

“I still believe we’ve got something going, we just need to get all the pieces together,” Allen said. “I’m proud of the effort. That’s a good team we just beat and like the previous games we’ve been there before but we were able to finish it. So room for improvement but a good start for us, looking to carry it into Saturday.”

Notable Performances

Alfosno Plummer had one of his best performances of the season against the Cardinal as he finished with 16 points, two assists and two rebounds. His scoring was often incredibly timely as he’d keep Utah’s lead above 10 points and ended a few runs by Stanford. 

Mikael Jantunen continues to be incredibly consistent for Utah as he contributed 11 points on 5-7 from the field and also grabbed six rebounds. While his scoring numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page his hustle and efficiency benefit Utah on a nightly basis.

Notable Statistics

This game was full of personal fouls as the two teams combined for 50 fouls and 60 free throws. This was disastrous for the Cardinal as three of their best players including Williams, Davis and Jaden Delaire all fouled out in the second half. This put Stanford at a huge disadvantage as they were forced to finish the game with several of their bench players, giving Utah a chance to extend their lead and run away with it.

A Look Ahead

The Runnin’ Utes improve to 5-5 overall and 2-4 in the conference with the victory. The team will end their four-game home stand as they host Cal on Saturday, Jan. 16 with a tip-off of 8 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcasted on ESPNU and as always you can listen to ESPN 700 with Bill Riley on the call. 

 

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@bagley_cole