SALT LAKE CITY — Two storms converged on the Huntsman Center — a snowy one outside and a Cardinal one inside. Both combined to spoil the first Sunday home game in University of Utah men’s basketball history, which ironically equaled the most lopsided loss in the team’s tenure in the 44-year-old arena.
Stanford scored early and often en route to a 87-56 victory over Utah before a sparse crowd.
“Snow storm, Sunday night, I’d like to blame it on a bunch of stuff,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “But at the end of the day, we weren’t physical enough. We weren’t ready to compete. And we weren’t mentally locked into what we needed to do.”
The Cardinal never trailed in handing the Utes their fourth consecutive loss at home and dropping them to 9-11 overall and 1-7 in Pac-12 play.
“We got our butts kicked — every phase of the game,” said Krystkowiak, who called it the lowpoint of his 51-game tenure with the Utes. “... They just manhandled us from start to finish.”
Stanford (12-8, 3-4) jumped out to a 4-0 advantage while holding Utah scoreless for more than two minutes to open the game. After Jason Washburn put the Utes on the board, the Cardinal reeled off eight straight points to increase its lead to 12-2. Eight of the points came on second shots and the other four off of turnovers.
As bad as things started off for Utah, they eventually grew worse.
While the Utes endured a scoring drought of more than five minutes, Stanford made seven foul shots, a 3-pointer and a field goal to make it 28-9 with 8:45 remaining in the half.
By the time it was complete, the Cardinal had built a 46-26 lead — inflicting damage across the board. It held decisive halftime edges in second-chance points (16-2), rebounding (24-14), points in the paint (14-4), offensive boards (8-2), points off of turnovers (12-7), fast-break points (5-0), steals (6-2) and field goal percentage (45.5-35.7 percent).
“We just got outrebounded, outhustled, manhandled,” said Utah freshman Justin Seymour. “That’s basically why we lost.”
Stanford junior John Gage came off the bench to lead all scorers with 14 points at the break. He made all three of his 3-point attempts to fuel an effort that included key first-half contributions by starters Dwight Powell (11 points, 7 rebounds), Chasson Randall (9 points, 6 rebounds) and Josh Huestis (7 points, 5 rebounds)
“I thought everyone was playing well for us to start the game,” said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. “It was important that our guys got off to a good start.”
Utah’s statistical leaders at halftime were reserves Seymour and Renan Lenz, who each had eight points. Washburn added four and four rebounds.
In the second half, Stanford’s lead swelled to as large as 35 points. The Cardinal wound up shooting 50 percent from the field. Gage finished with a game-high 19 points, while Randle added 17.
“They started with more energy than us and we didn’t get back at them,” Lenz said.
Seymour topped Utah with 14 and was the only Ute to score in double figures. The loss matched last season’s 81-50 setback to Cal State Fullerton as the largest deficit for the Utes in Huntsman Center history.
“It’s the low point for me since I’ve been here,” Krystkowiak said. “I feel as low as I’ve felt since I’ve been here because we’ve got too much invested in where we’re going and the direction we’re going. There just wasn’t a bright spot tonight in that ballgame for us.”
Krystkowiak added that “football practice” will begin Tuesday and he vows the team will play hard for the rest of the year.
“It was embarrassing to just get out-physicaled in every category and mentally,” Krytskowiak said.
The Utes return to action Saturday at home against Colorado.
EXTRA STUFF: The crowd was so small — despite a generously announced attendance of 7,769 — that patrons were invited to move into seats closer to the court during the first half. ... Utah Jazz swingman Jeremy Evans attended the game. ... In support of a Coaches vs. Cancer campaign, both coaching staffs wore sneakers with their suits.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DirkFacer
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company