NCAA basketball • Once hot Cardinal also finding victories difficult.
Published: March 2, 2013 03:05PM
Updated: March 2, 2013 05:33PM

There was the prolonged offensive drought that led to a blowout loss at California on Thursday.

Then, add on the previous meeting with Stanford which led to one of the most lopsided and embarrassing losses for a Utah team in the history of the Huntsman Center.

If ever the Utes had extra incentive to play well against the Cardinal, that would be Sunday afternoon’s game at Maples Pavilion.

This is a Utah team limping to the regular-season finish line, one struggling to stay out of last place in the Pac-12.

But in a season of competitive matchups that have ultimately ended up in defeats, Stanford wasn’t one of those games. That loss last month led to Larry Krystkowiak declaring a low point in his two-year tenure as the Utes’ coach.

“We don’t want to use it as any extra motivation, but we certainly have thought about it,” senior forward Cedric Martin said. “We have to play well ourselves. We have to do what we need to go out and get a win. That’s what our motivation is.”

There are differences from the last time the two teams played each other.

With one of the most talented rosters in the conference, including Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis and Chasson Randle, Stanford was once one of the hottest teams in the league.

But now, the Cardinal are a shell of their former selves. A recent prolonged rough stretch has left Stanford with a pedestrian 7-9 record within the Pac-12, 16-13 overall. A once promising NCAA Tournament at-large resume is now in tatters. If the Cardinal want to go dancing, they almost certainly will need to win the upcoming league tournament.

Also, the job status of Johnny Dawkins is very much up for discussion.

“We know what they like to do and what they are capable of,” freshman forward Jordan Loveridge said. “We have to play very well is we want to come out of there with a win.”

Utah is a wounded team as well. Against Cal on Thursday night, the Utes started fast, building a 22-14 lead by the midway mark of the first half.

Then came the turnovers, the missed shots and the empty offensive possessions. By the time the game ended, the Bears were winners of six straight and Utah was left to wonder what went so drastically wrong.

“We made a lot of careless mistakes,” Martin said. “We didn’t play well offensively, and they came out with some turnovers and got some easy baskets. That’s something we have to avoid going into Stanford.”

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tjonessltrib

Utah at Stanford

Tip-off: Sunday, 3 p.m. MDT

Where: Maples Pavilion, Stanford California

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: ESPN 700 AM

Records: Utah (3-12, 11-16); Stanford (7-9, 16-13)

Last Meeting: Stanford 87, Utah 56 (January 27th, 2013)

About the Utes: Jason Washburn needs 12 points for 1,000 in his career. … Jordan Loveridge scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Cal on Thursday. … The previous meeting between the two teams resulted in the worst home loss in school history for Utah. … Dakarai Tucker has averaged seven points per game in his last three outings

About the Cardinal: John Gage scored a career-high 19 points against Utah last month. … Stanford hit 9-15 from 3-point range against Utah in the previous meeting. … The Cardinal have lost four of their last five games. … Josh Huestis is fourth in the conference with nine rebounds per game