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Early turnovers cost Utes in road loss to Stanford

Stanford’s Daejon Davis, right, drives the ball against Utah’s Rylan Jones (15) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Stanford, Calif.
Ben Margot, Associated Press

STANFORD, Calif. — Most games, the Utah basketball team has a goal of 12 or fewer turnovers.

Against Stanford Wednesday night at Maples Pavilion, the Utes had a dozen miscues by the 4-minute mark of the first half.

That’s the kind of night it was for the Utes, who fell into a big hole early and could never climb out in a 70-62 loss to the Cardinal, despite making a valiant comeback in the second half.

With the loss, the Utes stayed winless in Pac-12 road games at 0-8 and fell to 15-13 overall and 6-10 in conference play.

“We absolutely got punched in the mouth there,” said coach Larry Krystkowiak. “Defensively we played hard, offensively looked like a junior high team to start the game.”

The Utes had hoped to pick up their second road win of the entire season against a Stanford team they had beaten by eight in overtime three weeks ago and which lost three of its last four home games.

But the Cardinal came out like a desperate team that is trying to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament after going through a mid-season slump when it lost seven of eight games.

With the victory, Stanford has now won three in a row and improved to 8-7 in Pac-12 play and 19-9 overall.

The Utes were led by Timmy Allen, who had his second straight strong game with 17 points, and Both Gach added 15 points.

Jaxon Brenchley had a fine game off the bench with 13 points, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range, while Branden Carlson, who played so well in the win over Stanford in Salt Lake, blocked eight shots like he did earlier against the Cardinal and scored 12 points.

Rylan Jones, who had gone down with a leg injury with three minutes in the win over USC, played 32 minutes but scored just two points and had three assists.

The Utes came out strong in the second half after a poor first half to get within six early, but freshman guard Tyrell Terry, who finished with 27 points, scored 11 straight points over a three-minute period early in the second half to push the lead to 13.

However, the Utes fought back and pulled within three points at 63-60 on a drive by Gach with 2:57 left. The Utes had two chances to tie the score, but Brenchley missed a 3-pointer from the corner and Carlson missed one from the top of the key. Then at the other end, Jaiden Delaire sank a 3-pointer from the left corner at the 1:01 mark to make it a six-point game, and the Cardinal iced the game with some free throws.

“I give our guys a lot of credit in the second half for fighting back and staying in it,” Krystkowiak said. “But you’ve got to make some plays down the stretch.”

Besides Terry, Oscar da Silva, who had been held to eight points in the game at Utah, scored 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting and Delaire added 11 off the bench.

This one seemed over in the opening minutes thanks to a slew of turnovers by a sloppy Ute team that was rattled by a tenacious Cardinal defense.

After falling behind 10-2 right out of the gates and forcing a timeout by Krystkowiak, the Utes came out of the timeout with five, count ‘em, five straight turnovers, giving them nine before the game was even nine minutes old and Stanford led 17-4.

“Nine of our first 11 possessions were turnovers and it looked like we weren’t very well prepared,” said Krystkowiak.

The lead got as high as 26-9 at the 8:42 mark and 34-16 before the Utes settled down a bit and cut the margin to behind the play of Brenchley, who had seven first-half points, and Carlson, who had five points and five blocks.

The Utes will head across the Bay to play Cal Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. Then they’ll return home for one last home game March 7 against Colorado.