The Utah men's basketball team basically had the game won in their Pac-12 opener against Stanford on Friday night. All they had to do is make at least one of four free throws from the best free throw shooters on the team, Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor. Unfortunately, that's not what happened, as Stanford forced overtime and eventually won the game by a score of 70-68. Utah had three players score in double figures, led by Jakob Poeltl's 16 points. Kyle Kuzma recorded a double double on the night, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Lorenzo Bonam pulled in 15 points of his own. Stanford was led by Marcus Sheffield's and Rosco Allen's 17 points, to go along with 14 points
The tune was pretty similar for Utah for most of the game, shoot pretty well (45.6%), overall, but way too many turnovers. On the night Utah had 19 turnovers, many of which came near the end of the game when Utah had multiple opportunities to win the game. Something that Utah has been so good at this season, free throw shooting, betrayed them on Friday. Utah only shot 11-of-24 (45%) from the free throw line, including the four consecutive misses from Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor to end regulation. Loveridge had a chance to make the game a 4 point affair, and basically put the game on ice, but missed both and Stanford went down the floor and tied it up. Taylor's misses really hurt, because he was fouled with about a second remaining in regulation and had two free throws to win the game, he only really needed to make one for the Utes to win the game, and he missed both.
Utah appeared to be well on their way to an easy victory early in the second half, as they extended to a 12 point lead, with 8 consecutive points by Taylor, but the turnover issues bit hard and allowed Stanford back into the game. Utah's offense really came to a screeching halt when Poeltl fouled out near the end of regulation.
In fact, the officiating was very, very tight, and some would say "bad" for stretches of the game. The theme that we saw early in non-conference play remains - don't come near an offensive player or you'll be whistled for a foul. In fact, seven players tonight had four or more fouls, and three fouled out, including Poelt and Brekkott Chapman.
The three point line was not kind to Utah tonight either, as they went 5-of-19.
At the end of the night, the only ones Utah can blame for this loss is themselves. Way too many empty possessions down the floor with the 19 turnovers, and the 13 missed free throws ultimately did them in. Early in the first half, it felt like Utah should have had a 20 point lead, because Stanford was shooting awful, but Utah couldn't capitalize.
Next up for the Utes, are the Cal Bears on Sunday, in Berkeley. Utah needs to play a lot better, and I mean A LOT if they don't want to come out of this road trip 0-2, as Cal is significantly more talented than Stanford.