STANFORD, Calif. — The last time the Utah basketball team won a game at Stanford, Larry Krystkowiak was just a young lad living near Glacier National Park in Montana. It was clear back in 1971 when the Utes took an eight-point victory over the Cardinal.
Finally all these years later, the Utes broke a losing streak that included five straight losses here in Pac-12 play since 2012 with a 70-66 victory Thursday night at Maples Pavilion.
Coach Krystkowiak said he addressed the Pac-12 drought before the game, telling his team that Stanford and Arizona were the only two places in conference play the Utes hadn’t won over the past seven seasons.
“We talked about it before the game that there were a couple of places we hadn’t won,” he said. “It was a team effort, and everybody was engaged.”
“That was a lot of fun, Coach K’s first win at Stanford,” said Sedrick Barefield, who was the Utes’ hero with three big 3-pointers and four free throws down the stretch. “Being able to say we did that is a really cool thing.”
It didn’t come easy as the Utes overcame what Krystkowiak called some “atrocious” offense with some strong defense at the other end.
The Utes kept Stanford from scoring three times in the final 25 seconds as they hung on for their second road victory in Pac-12 play and improved to 4-2 in the league and 10-8 overall.
Barefield led the Utes with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. Donnie Tillman added 11 points off the bench, Parker Van Dyke scored 10 and Jayce Johnson and Both Gach each scored nine points, with Johnson grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds.
KZ Opala, who had missed the last game at Washington State with back spasms, was tough for the Utes to stop all night as he finished with 22 points for Stanford. Daejon Davis added 17 points, while Josh Sharma had nine points and 12 rebounds.
Utah took a 31-26 lead into halftime after trailing for much of the initial 20 minutes.
The Utes got off to a sloppy start and trailed early before tying the game at 18 on a lay-up by Tillman. Then with his team down 23-20, Van Dyke hit back-to-back 3-pointers from out front and the right corner to put the Utes on top. After the Cardinal tied it, Barefield hit a 3-pointer from the top and then Timmy Allen scored his first points of the game with a short shot just before the buzzer.
In the second half, the Cardinal came out strong and looked to be in control for a while as they led by six points at 54-48 with 7:51 left on a bucket by Davis.
Then after Charles Jones scored for Utah, Barefield hit back-to-back 3-pointers from out front within a 30-second span to put the Utes up 56-54 at the 5:24 mark.
It was 60-60 when Barefield hit another big three from out front, although this one didn’t swish and bounced around the rim a couple of times before finally falling.
After Okpala tied it with a three, Van Dyke scored on a drive to put the Utes up for good at 65-63 with 57 seconds left. Okpala could only make one of two free throws with 39 seconds left and then came an “interesting” play when Stanford fouled Barefield immediately.
Not only did they have nearly 40 seconds left, enough time to get the ball back with 10 seconds or so, but they also fouled perhaps Utah’s best free-throw shooter (83.6 percent on the year).42 comments on this story
“That was a little interesting,” said Krystkowiak. “I don’t know if they were going for a steal or trying to foul him. It certainly gives us, on a night like tonight, our best opportunity to put points on the board because we hadn’t dazzled anybody up until that point. So that was big.”
Barefield sank both to put the Utes up by three, and then after Sharma made two free throws at the 24-second mark, Barefield was fouled again and sank two with 22 seconds left.
Stanford couldn’t convert on a lay-up try with 16 seconds left, and Johnson sank one of two free throws for the final margin.
The Utes will try to get another road win Saturday night when they take on Cal at Haas Pavilion in an 8 p.m. MST game.