More than making shots, more than good defense or rebounding on both ends, basketball is a game of matchups.
Some opponents are just a bad matchup.
For Utah, Stanford is that team. On Sunday afternoon at Maples Pavilion, the host Cardinal defeated the Utes 84-66 in a game that started as a blowout, turned tight in the second half and then ended up again in blowout territory.
It's the second time this season that Stanford has defeated Utah in convincing fashion. Scarily for the Utes, they didn't play anywhere near as badly as they did in the previous defeat.
Jarred DuBois scored 22 points, leading Utah offensively. The Utes, down big early, went on a spirited run to pull within 49-45 with 15 minutes remaining. Utah switched lineups with some success, going big in large stretches with Jordan Loveridge playing small forward. The Utes also shot well, making jumpers from the perimeter and doing things to score offensively in the paint.
For all of those positives, the negative was plenty. For the second time this year, Chasson Randle scorched Larry Krystkowiak's bunch, scoring 22 points and notching six assists. Anytime Utah drew close, Stanford would go on a prolonged run to create distance. Often, it looked as if the Cardinal were simply doing what they needed to in order to get the win.
Utah is normally a very good defensive team. On Sunday, however, defense proved to be a chore. Stanford shot 48 percent from the field and made 11 3-pointers. The Cardinal worked the ball inside to Dwight Powell early on, and then bombed away from behind the arc once Utah began to collapse down low.
As a result, people such as Randle, Andy Brown, Aaron Bright and John Gage received easy looks from outside, which they gleefully swished through the net with frequency. Many of their misses turned into offensive rebounds at the hands of Powell or Josh Huestis. For large periods, Utah struggled to string together defensive stops.
Stanford played everyone. It put four players into double digits. Powell scored 15 points, and senior Gabriel Harris added 14. Gage scored 11.
For Utah, Loveridge scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, capping a nice two-game trip through California for the freshman out of West Jordan. Jason Washburn, the senior center, scored 10 points. With one basket this Thursday against Oregon State, Washburn will score his 1,000th career point, a tribute to how far he's come in the last two years under Krystkowiak.
Utah falls to 3-13 in the Pac-12. The Utes are one game ahead of Washington State for the fight to stay out of last place in the conference with two regular-season games remaining, both at home.
Stanford 84,Utah 66
R Chasson Randle leads Stanford with 22 points.
• Jarred DuBois scores 22 for Utah.
• The Utes fall to 11-17 overall and 3-13 in the Pac-12.