Through all of the losses and all of the disappointment over the last month, optimistic Utah fans could always hang their hats on a mantra that presented a positive outlook of the Ute basketball program.
At least they aren’t getting blown out like last year.
That can no longer be said after Sunday night. In what matched the most lopsided Huntsman Center defeat in program history, Utah found itself smacked around by Stanford 87-56 in front of 7.769 who braved a winter storm and terrible roads to attend. The score wasn’t that close.
In the first Sunday home game in school history, the Utes were embarrassed, manhandled, outclassed. They surrendered 12 of the first 14 points of the game, turned the ball over four times in their first five possessions and fell behind 28-9 in the first 10 minutes. It only got worse from there in their worst loss of the season.
“This is rock-bottom for me,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “This is the lowest I’ve felt since I took over. We just got beat up out there tonight. I can tell you this much: We will play hard for the rest of the year. That won’t be a problem again. There just wasn’t a bright spot in this ballgame for us.”
If you want a silver lining, or a positive note, Krystkowiak said there wasn’t any. If you are looking for guys who played well, Justin Seymour had 14 points and Renan Lenz had eight points and eight rebounds. That’s about it.
A Stanford team that’s been mediocre this season looked like the Miami Heat. Chasson Randle had 17 points and eight rebounds. Dwight Powell had 11 and nine rebounds, and Josh Huestis had 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Cardinal shot 50 percent for the game, made nine of their 15 3-point attempts and owned a 43-27 rebound advantage over a Utah team that’s typically pretty good in that category.
“We are always coming out and getting behind and not playing well early on,” Seymour said. “That’s on the players. We have to come out with much more energy. Until we do, we’re always going to be getting beat like this.”
In an effort to lift his team out of a stupor, Krystkowiak tried everything. He inserted freshman Brandon Taylor early. He played Seymour 21 minutes, his high since conference play began, Lenz played the majority of the minutes at power forward, as Jordan Loveridge was ineffective by going scoreless with two rebounds. Krystkowiak even played Xan Ricketts, a little-used sophomore who hasn’t been in the regular rotation at any point of the season.
Nothing worked. Stanford was just too athletic at every position, with too much size at every spot. As a result, Utah falls to 1-7 in the Pac-12 Conference. With a 9-11 record overall, the Utes’ hope of finishing the season with a .500 record becomes more bleak by the game.
It’s hard to believe Utah’s road win over Washington was a little over a week ago. The Utes were a euphoric bunch on that brisk night in Seattle. Buy, hey, at least the two teams have something in common.
Neither group has won a game since then. And both have hit what they hope to be their worst point.
on twitter: @tjonessltrib
Storylines Utes run cold in loss
R Stanford begins the game with a 12-2 run.
• Utah shoots 38.2 percent from the field.
• Utah falls to 9-11 overall, 1-7 in Pac-12 play.