Runnin’ Utes Fall Short at Stanford

University+of+Utah+sophomore+center+Branden+Carlson+%2835%29+in+a+NCAA+Basketball+game+vs.+the+Arizona+Wildcats+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+2021.+%28Photo+by+Kevin+Cody+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah sophomore center Branden Carlson (35) in a NCAA Basketball game vs. the Arizona Wildcats at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah men’s basketball team took a loss to the Stanford Cardinals on Saturday night — snapping a three-game winning streak. Despite a late attempted comeback, Utah went cold for prolonged stretches in this one, which ultimately doomed them. 

First Half

The Utes started the game well, jumping out to a 12-2 lead four minutes in. Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long as Stanford came roaring back and the Utes went ice cold. It became a 25-6 run for the Cardinal over the next 12 minutes of game time, leaving the Utes reeling. The offense did not come easy for Utah, as shots clanked off the rim and turnovers abounded. Even the free throws didn’t drop, as Utah shot 3-6 in the first half. Stanford continued to roll after starting slowly, eventually taking a 34-22 halftime lead. Timmy Allen only attempted three shots in the first half and had four points at the break. Alfonso Plummer was the one who started the Utes off on the right foot with eight quick points, but as he went cold, so did the team.

Second Half

The good news is that Utah finally found somewhat of an offensive rhythm a few minutes into the second half. The bad news is, so did Stanford. The Utes and Cardinal traded baskets for a long while out of the halftime locker room, which kept the lead around 12 for a while. Eventually, while struggling to cut into the lead, Utah resorted to jacking three-pointers early in the clock. With those attempts not falling, it became really hard to get back into the game. The Utes attempted a late comeback, but they ultimately ran out of time, eventually falling to the Cardinal, 73-66.

Takeaways

Utah was short-handed tonight without Rylan Jones, who was out again due to an injury. Shortly before tipoff, Utah also announced that Mikael Jantunen would miss the game to travel back to his home country of Finland. He will play with their national team in a must-win game to stay alive in the FIBA Eurobasket 2022 Qualifier. Jantunen’s services were requested, and he obliged, leaving the States to return to Europe for a short while. They play next weekend, after which Jantunen is expected back to the Utes for the stretch run of the season and the Pac-12 Tournament. 

“This goes back to when we originally recruited Mickey,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It was a promise made on my part that he’d be able to participate in the National Team… It was a COVID thing. Any other year it doesn’t have that impact.”

“Next man up mentality. We gotta control what we can control,” Allen said. “We’re focused on the guys who are out on the floor.”

Jantunen and Jones missing this game freed up some minutes for guys like Jordan Kellier and Lahat Thioune, who have not had consistent roles in the rotation this year. 

“I was pleased that we finished the game the way that we did, with some energy, making some plays, it certainly made it interesting,” Krystkowiak said.

Up Next

This loss ended Utah’s three-game win streak. They now sit at 6-7 in the Pac-12, 9-8 overall. Utah will head up to Oregon next weekend for games against the Beavers and Ducks. They’ll be looking to make some final tune-ups before the Pac-12 Tournament, which tips off in less than a month.

 

[email protected]

@e_pearce_

@nbacourtsidetv