PALO ALTO, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah men’s basketball team ends 2022 on a roll.
The Runnin’ Utes remained undefeated in Pac-12 play Saturday afternoon as it fended off the Stanford Cardinal inside Maples Pavilion to prevail 71-66 while big man Branden Carlson joined the 1,000 career points club.
The win gives Utah a sweep of the Bay Area teams on the road in consecutive season for the first time in program history since joining the Pac-12 and also the first time its swept back-to-back conference road series since the 2018-19 campaign.
The opening minutes of the game started off with both teams going back-and-forth but similar to last night, Wilguens Jr. Exacte got things going for the Utes with a 3-pointer at the 13:58 mark. A 10-0 run ensued for Utah (11-4, 4-0 Pac-12) after that and was capped off by Keba Keita, who pinned an Isa Silva lay-up before scoring on the offensive end.
Despite Utah finishing the half shooting 12-of-20 (.600) from the field, it only led the Cardinal 30-23 heading into the break behind a pair of timely 3-pointers by the home team.
After Stanford opened the second frame with a basket, the Runnin’ Utes went on a 9-0 spurt to go up 39-25 before blitzing the Cardinal (5-9, 0-4 Pac-12) with a 10-3 run at the midway point (10:44).
Carlson then became the 41st player in program history to join the 1,000 career points club at the 8:42 mark when Rollie Worster connected with the South Jordan native for points 1,000 and 1,001.
After a couple baskets from Worster and Lazar Stefanovic, Stanford began its rally to close within 62-60 of Utah after they knocked down seven-straight baskets. However, the Runnin’ Utes were locked in from the charity stripe knocking down 13-of-14 to seal the 71-66 victory in the final 4:06 minutes of play.
Stefanovic finished with a game-high 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting – including a perfect 3-of-3 evening from beyond the arc while Carlson closed out the day with 18 points on four rebounds. Gabe Madsen finished with 10 points, seven boards and four dimes while Marco Anthony chipped in with 10 points of his own.
Utah has now started Pac-12 play 4-0 for the first time since 2014-15 … first time Utah has opened conference play with a 3-0 mark on the road was back in 2004-05 while it was a part of the Mountain West Conference … the .575 shooting clip on Saturday was the highest field-goal percentage by Utah under Craig Smith in Pac-12 play and best since shooting .591 against Arizona State on March 6, 2021.
The Runnin’ Utes return home to a busy weekend inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center with Utah welcoming in Oregon State on Thursday, Jan. 5, for an 8 p.m.