Stanford (19-9) at Utah (5-22)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: CSN-BAY. Home Record: Stanford 13-3, Utah 5-9. Away Record: Stanford 5-5, Utah 0-10. Neutral Record: 1-1, Utah 0-3. Conference Record: Stanford 9-7, Utah 2-13. Series Record: Utah leads, 14-8.
GAME NOTES: The Utah Utes try to avoid losing a season-worst ninth consecutive game tonight, as they prepare for the arrival of the Stanford Cardinal for this evening's Pac-12 Conference clash in Salt Lake City.
Stanford is enjoying a solid season as it is just one win away from its first 20-win campaign since 2008-09. It is in seventh place in the Pac-12 at 9-7, but with five teams sitting within two and half games of each other in the standings, a lot of shuffling around is likely as the regular season draws to a close. The Cardinal has won three of its last four games, including a 74-50 rout of Colorado in Boulder on Thursday.
Utah's first season as a member of the Pac-12 is not one it's going to savor, as the team has won just five of its 27 games overall and it currently sits in 11th place in the conference with a 2-13 league ledger. The Utes' eight-game losing streak matches one they set at the beginning of the season, with their latest defeat coming to conference leader California on Thursday, 60-46. The Huntsman Center has been somewhat of a safe-haven for Utah however, as all five of its wins have come in Salt Lake City.
Stanford defeated Utah in a 68-65 final back on January 12 in the first meeting between the squads since March of 1997. Despite that setback, the Utes lead the all-time series, 14-8.
Stanford has been rock solid at both ends of the court this season, as it is one of just two teams to rank in the top-six of the Pac-12 in both scoring offense (70.1 ppg) and scoring defense (62.7 ppg), which leads to the second- best scoring margin in the conference (+7.4). The Cardinal's overall prowess was put on display in Thursday's game at the team connected on 49.1 percent of its field goal attempts and 9-of-18 from three-point range, while holding Colorado to 29.6 percent field goal efficiency. The feat was even more impressive considering it was just the Buffaloes' second loss in 15 games in Boulder this season. Freshman Chasson Randle led all scorers with 20 points, his second 20-plus point effort in the last three outings. Randle leads Stanford in scoring on the season (12.8 ppg), though Josh Owens (12.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Aaron Bright (11.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) are hot on his heels.
Utah has a dreadful scoring margin of -13.8, more than double the next-worst team in the conference (USC at -6.1), due in large part to the fact that the Utes average just 56.2 ppg. Defensively, they yield 70 ppg. Though Utah tightened things up at the defensive end on Thursday by holding Cal to just 40.4 percent shooting overall, they were once again out of sorts on offense, committing more turnovers (19) than field goals made (16). The loss marked the fourth time on this current losing streak they have failed to score 50 points. Chris Hines was one of Utah's few bright spots in the game as he tallied 15 points, and he has scored in double digits in eight of the last nine games. With leading scorer Josh Watkins (15.6 ppg, 4.8 apg) dismissed from the team in January, Jason Washburn (10.6, 6.3 rpg) is the only active Ute to average double digits in the scoring column.
Utah is simply playing out the season at this point, and even the hometown faithful isn't likely to inspire the team to pull off the upset of the visiting Cardinal who come in seeking their 20th win of the campaign.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stanford 74, Utah 55
02/25 10:44:18 ET