SALT LAKE CITY — “Dad, it’s only a 29-point lead,’’ the 6-year-old boy said as a family of four walked up the Huntsman Center aisle with eight minutes left in Sunday night’s Utah-Stanford game.
“Thirty-one,’’ replied the father, perhaps trying to justify the early exit from the arena.
But leaving at that point of the game was understandable, as many in the meager crowd had been streaming up the aisles long before that. By the end of the game, the Huntsman Center looked like it had a typical crowd for a Utah women’s game, which usually draws well under 1,000 fans.
That’s what happens when the home team ties the record for the worst home loss in Huntsman Center history.
The Utes were beaten by Stanford by 31 points, 87-56, the same amount as last year’s early-season loss to Cal State Fullerton.
At least the Utes could say they lost to a Pac-12 team this time around. On the other hand, the Utes have been playing much better this season on the whole and just eight days earlier had beaten one of the better Pac-12 teams, Washington, by nine points on the road.
Plus, last year, a less-talented Ute team actually beat Stanford at home and came very close on the road.
No wonder Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak called Sunday night’s loss “the low point for me since I’ve been here.’’
Nothing went right for the Utes in their first-ever Sunday night home game, while everything seemed to go right for the Cardinal, which came in as a lower-division Pac-12 team at 2-4 and 11-9 overall.
The Cardinal shot 50 percent from the field, including 60 percent from 3-point range. The Utes shot 38.2 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3-point range and 62 percent from the line.
Stanford also outrebounded the Utes by a comfortable margin, 43-27, and had more blocks, steals and assists, and fewer turnovers.
“There wasn’t a bright spot for us in that ballgame tonight,’’ Krystkowiak said.
Krystkowiak complained afterward how his team didn’t do anything it talked before the game, from blocking out on rebounds to running a set play at the start of the game.5 comments on this story
But he didn’t want to put it all on his players, saying, “I’m not the guy who going to say, ‘hey, I’m doing my job.’ To me, we’re just not dialed in. Obviously I’m not doing a good enough job coaching block-out rebounds, whether it’s a free throw or otherwise, and we’re going to have to start pounding some stuff in to make sure we’re executing.’’
Krystkowiak also had a difficult time explaining how his team could play so well against Washington and regress so far in a week’s time.
“You’re going to have a handful of games where you lay an egg like tonight,’’ he said. “I don’t why it’s happening. But I do know what I can control and I will be trying to find guys that are interested in jumping in and playing harder.’’