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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah Men’s Basketball Dominates Stanford to Keep NCAA Tournament Hopes Alive

With March Madness just around the corner, the Utes clinched an important win over Stanford to help keep them on the road to Glendale.
University+of+Utah+Men%E2%80%99s+Basketball+guard+Deivon+Smith+%285%29+in+the+game+vs.+the+Colorado+Buffaloes+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+2024+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City.+%28Photo+by+Mary+Allen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Mary Allen
University of Utah Men’s Basketball guard Deivon Smith (5) in the game vs. the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The Utah men’s basketball team came into their matchup with the visiting Stanford Cardinal having lost four of their last five contests. The Utes came out with a tenacious mindset as they smothered Stanford defensively for 40 straight minutes, holding the Cardinal to just 68 points. A massive scoring outburst from Cole Bajema and another jaw-dropping triple-double by Deivon Smith helped Utah secure a crucial 90-68 win to keep their NCAA tournament dreams alive.

First Half

The first half was dominated by Utah on both ends of the floor, as they played one of their most complete halves of basketball thus far this season. Heading into the locker room, Utah held a commanding 46-27 lead with plenty of work left in order to close this game out.

The Utes defense was locked in throughout the entire first half, holding the Cardinal to just 39.3% shooting from the field. On the offensive side of the ball, Utah shot 47.2% from the field, but a 24 to 14 rebounding advantage, including 10 offensive boards, led to second-chance opportunities that the Utes were able to capitalize on. Turnovers have plagued Utah so far this year, but just four first-half giveaways were key to dominating the offensive side of the ball for the majority of the first 20 minutes.

Utah started the game strong, taking a 7-0 lead just over two minutes into the contest, thanks to a 3-pointer from Bajema, a monstrous Keba Keita put-back dunk and a Branden Carlson drive and finish. The Utes continued to apply the pressure after taking an early lead, pushing the tempo off defensive rebounds and imposing their length on defense to help take a 20-8 lead with 12:57 left in the half. Stanford would not go away, however, as they were able to cut the lead to six points with just over 10 minutes remaining. Bajema had seen enough of the Stanford run as he knocked down back-to-back clutch 3-pointers to extend the Utah lead to 13 points shortly after the Cardinal scoring spurt. The two Bajema 3-pointers seemed to spark the Utah offense because they would end the half on a 20-11 run to take a comfortable 19-point halftime lead.

Bajema led Utah in the first half, scoring 11 points on 3-3 from 3-point range, while Gabe Madsen followed closely behind with nine points of his own. Keita and Branden Carlson both scored seven points throughout the first half to help pace the Utes’ frontcourt. Smith’s search for more triple-doubles started off incredibly well, as he finished the half with six points, six assists and eight rebounds.

The second half would need to feature more of Utah’s stellar play on both ends of the floor if they wanted to close out a Stanford team hungry for a win.

Second Half

Utah continued to dominate coming out of halftime, taking a 21-point lead thanks to another 3-point bomb by Bajema at the 14:00 mark of the second half. The Utah defense dominated in the first half, and that theme stayed the same as Stanford had no answer for the tenacious defensive pressure by the Ute guards.

Both teams exchanged buckets for the majority of the second half, but Stanford could not string together enough stops on defense to spark any comeback effort. Utah played within themselves, not letting the lead slip away with great ball movement and the continued ability to limit turnovers.

Utah continued their incredible offensive play the entirety of the second half, and with 5:03 left to go, a Smith open lane to the rim would end up being one of the most explosive posterizing dunks of Smith’s career. Smith took off just inside the free throw line, throwing down the emphatic dunk over a Stanford forward to put the exclamation point on a historic night for Smith and the Utes.

This game was a night to remember for the Huntsman crowd as Bajema notched his first 20-point game of the season and Smith was able to secure his third triple-double of the year. Utah would come out on top 90-68 in a game that the Utes desperately needed in order to stay competitive in the race to the NCAA tournament.

Utes Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Bajema scored 21 points on an efficient 5-6 from 3-point range to lead all scorers in the game. Smith stuffed the stat sheet once again, scoring 13 points, dishing out 10 beautiful assists and snagging 10 rebounds to secure his triple-double. Lawson Lovering provided a huge spark off the bench, putting up 17 points while going a perfect 6-6 from the field. Madsen rounded out the majority of the Utah offensive effort with 15 points as well.

What’s next for the Utes?

Utah will host the California Golden Bears on Saturday, March 2, at 7:00 p.m. MST at the John M. Huntsman Center. The Utes will look to secure another big conference win in this upcoming contest with just under two weeks until the start of the Pac-12 tournament. Catch all the action on the Pac-12 Network this Saturday night.

 

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@Kylegarr23

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About the Contributors
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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