After a slow start in conference play, the Stanford men’s basketball team (9-9, 2-4 Pac-12) seek their first back-to-back Pac-12 wins of the season against the Utah Utes (9-8, 3-2 Pac-12) this Thursday at Maples Pavilion at 6 p.m. PST.
The Cardinal are coming off a 78-66 win over Washington State (8-10, 1-4 Pac-12) last Saturday with solid performances all across the board. Five Stanford players put up points in double digits, and freshman Daejon Davis was all over the court, collecting five steals and six assists to go along with his 15 points. Senior center Josh Sharma came close to notching a double double, with 11 points and eight rebounds. The whole Cardinal team was locked in from the very beginning, shooting over 60 percent from the field in the first half.
The Cardinal’s young core continues to shine. In his last 10 games, Davis has averaged 15.3 points, 5.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals. He has never been afraid of the spotlight and stepped up big against No. 9 Kansas (16-3) with a season-high 19 points in a game that forced overtime. He is second in the conference with 5.8 assists per game and third in steals (1.6 spg). Sophomore forward KZ Okpala is one of the Pac-12’s most lethal scorers, ranking third in three-point percentage (.451) and second in points per game (17.9). Freshman Cormac Ryan has been a fan favorite, and it’s no mystery why — whether he is draining threes in the clutch like he did at USC or putting his body on the line like he did against Arizona, he always gives the crowd something to cheer for. His injury status for tonight’s game is still unknown.
The Utes have won their last two Pac-12 games, claiming commanding victories against Colorado and Washington State. Utah has dangerous offensive threats in Sedrick Barefield and Timmy Allen, who both had 20-point games against Colorado.
The last matchup against Utah ended in a frustrating 75-60 defeat for the Cardinal, who shot a frigid 35 percent from the field. Hopefully the Cardinal can find the bottom of the net more consistently on Thursday’s game (not that we need more rain here on campus). History is in Stanford’s favor — the Cardinal command an impressive 5-0 record against the Utes when playing at home since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011.
Looking ahead, the Cardinal will host the Colorado Buffaloes (10-7, 1-4 Pac-12) on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST before departing on a 3-game road trip starting with rival Cal (5-13, 0-6 Pac-12) the weekend after.
Contact Stephen Ren at rensteph ‘at’ stanford.edu