It was an ugly, flat start for the Utes, as they had to rally back at home on Senior Day to top Stanford, a team that beat them just about a month ago. After a couple of really nice, aggressive performances, on both sides of the floor, the Utes came out flat, and was playing poor defense, and missing easy baskets in the paint. David Collette had a tough day, as he missed multiple bunnies in the paint, and then he was knocked out in the 1st half, after he got hit in the head. That’s something to keep an eye out for, because he may miss some tournament games because of previous concussion issues.
The game looked like it may slip away from the Utes in the 2nd half, but the lone senior on the squad, Lorezno Bonam, scored 11 straight points of his own, to help Utah take the lead, and stretch it out a little bit. Bonam has been up and down this year, but has finished the year on a high note, and helped Utah clinch their 20th win of the season.
Before the game, Utah had clinched the 4-seed in the Pac-12 tournament, thanks to Cal losing to Colorado. Essentially, the game against Stanford didn’t mean much, as Utah is out of the at-large bid discussion for the NCAA Tournament anyway. It would have been a pretty painful loss for moral, at the least.
For more stats, check out the press release from the U below:
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah senior Lorenzo Bonam scored a career-high 26 points on the way to helping guide the Utes to a 67-59 Pac-12 Conference victory over the Stanford Cardinal on Senior Day at the Huntsman Center on Saturday.
With the win, Utah finished the regular-season 20-10 overall and finished alone in fourth-place in the Pac-12 Conference standings to secure the No. 4 seed in next week's conference tournament, which will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Stanford dropped to 14-16 overall and 6-12 in Pac-12 play.
"I'm pretty proud of the process and how it went down," said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "It was an uphill battle for us. I talked about it three weeks ago, I think everybody thought it was crazy when I said we were still aspiring to be the four-seed until somebody tells me otherwise. A few things fell into place for us, and we took care of all the business that we needed to take care of and I'm really proud."
Bonam poured in Utah's final 11 points of the game, which included back-to-back steal-and-scores for Utah's lone senior. The Inkster, Mich., native was 9-of-11 from the field overall and 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc.
Utah had to rally back from 11 points down after trailing 23-12 with 7:44 left to play in the first half. Despite the deficit, Utah's defense picked up the slack and the offense managed to outscore the Cardinal, 14-5, over the final 7:19 of the first period.
Stanford, who took a 28-26 lead into halftime, countered and came out of the intermission with a 13-7 run to push its lead to six points, up 41-35. Junior Tyler Rawson knocked down a three-pointer to open an 8-2 Utah run, which tied the game at 43-43 with 10:29 left to play.
The Cardinal pushed its lead back to four points, up 52-48, at the 5:40 mark, but junior Kyle Kuzma and Bonam sank back-to-back three-pointers to give the Utes a 54-52 lead. Kuzma drained a pair of free throws to extend the lead, and despite a bucket from the Cardinal at the other end of the floor, Bonam would take over.
A lay-up from the senior pushed Utah's lead to 58-54 and then his pair of steal-and-scores made it an eight-point lead, with the Utes up 62-54. Bonam drained 3-of-5 free throws down the stretch and then capped off his 26-point effort with a dunk to seal the eight-point victory.
"I was the only one," said Bonam. "I was the only senior, so I put more heart into it. With more seniors on the team, they just try to take it upon themselves to do stuff because they're seniors and it's their last game at home. With me being the only one, I could do more than I usually do, basically, and I hope that I can just keep it up for the rest of the postseason."
Bonam finished the game leading the Utes in points, assists (4) and steals (3). He would finish the week with a total of seven steals after registering a career-high four steals against California this past Thursday evening.
After shooting just 35 percent from the field in the first half, the Utes managed to go 13-of-25 (.520) in the second half, which included a 6-of-10 effort from the three-point arc.
Stanford out-rebounded the Utes, 33-32, but Utah tallied 11 offensive boards, which led to 12 second-chance points.
• Utah finishes the regular-season at 20-10 overall and 11-7 in Pac-12 play. The Utes have posted at least 20 wins in a single season for the fourth straight year.• With the win, Utah locked up a fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 standings and secured the No. 4 seed in next week's Pac-12 Championship Tournament in Las Vegas. Utah was picked to finish No. 8 in the Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll.
• Bonam's career-high 26 points surpasses his previous high of 24 points, which he tallied at Washington back on Jan. 21. This was Bonam's third 20-point game of the season and fourth of his career.
• Utah trailed by as many as 11 points on Saturday. The Utes have now posted wins when trailing by at least 10 points, four times on the season. It was the sixth win on the year when trailing by at least eight points.
• Utah finished with the game knocking down at least 10 three-pointers for the fifth time this season. It was the third time to do so against a Pac-12 Conference opponent.
• Kyle Kuzma finished the game with 16 points. He has registered double-digit scoring efforts in 15 straight games.
Utah will have a first-round bye in the conference tournament next week and is scheduled to play its first game on Thursday, March 9. The Utes will face the winner of Wednesday's match-up between California and Oregon State. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PST at T-Mobile Arena.