Utah basketball looks for their first — and maybe only — road Pac-12 win

Stanford, Calif. • Larry Krystkowiak chooses to live in the present, which is good because his team’s past experiences on the road this season are largely forgettable.

Utah (15-12, 6-9 Pac-12) is 0-7 in conference road games this season as it readies for one more road trip, this one to the Bay Area to play Stanford on Wednesday and Cal on Saturday. The Utes are looking at a state of infamy with two more road losses this week.

No Pac-12 team has gone winless on the road in conference-play since Oregon State and Washington both went 0-9 in 2017. That Beavers team was without Tres Tinkle, then a sophomore, for the final 26 games with a broken right wrist. The Huskies managed to go 0-9 that season despite the presence of eventual-No. 1 overall Markelle Fultz roaming their backcourt.

For what it’s worth, Washington State is in the same boat as Utah, winless on the road in the Pac-12, but with three games to go. On paper, the Cougars’ task is tougher than that of the Utes, with trips to Washington, Arizona, and Arizona State coming.

“If it happens, that would concern me, but until our season is over, we’re in the present tense,” Krystkowiak said Monday afternoon, less than 48 hours after the Utes defeated USC, 79-65, to move to 11-2 at the Huntsman Center this winter. “I don’t do a very good job of dealing in hypotheticals. Now you’re putting me two games from now. I’d be concerned, but I wouldn’t be concerned that long because we have to play Colorado (at the Huntsman Center on March 7). It’s very much an in-the-moment type of thing, so let’s control what we can control.”

Despite the road woes, Utah continues to hang on to NIT hopes. A win over the Cardinal would be a huge boost in that regard, but beating Cal at Haas Pavilion on Saturday night would suffice, at least for now as NCAA Tournament and NIT bracketology remains fluid with conference tournaments approaching.

The Utes are 2-8 against Quadrant 1 opponents. Of those eight losses, six are road games against Pac-12 teams. If Utah had been able to get half of those six, maybe even just two, postseason options might look different with March upon us. A four-point loss at USC on Jan. 30, in which Utah led by nine in the second half, stands as a missed opportunity.

“We’re not playing in the rearview mirror,” Krystkowiak said. “One of the messages I’ve had with our guys is, let’s focus on the controllables. Right now, the last thing we can control is what took place, it’s nothing in the past. Maybe we can take some of the data and apply it to what we need to do to give ourselves a chance to beat Stanford.

“That’s where we are. We’re in a very-much present tense. What can we control? Our attitudes, our energy, our decisions, our actions, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Utah at Stanford

At Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.

Tipoff: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: ESPN 700AM

Series history: Utah leads, 18-10

Last meeting: Utah, 64-56 (2020)

About the Utes: Timmy Allen’s 21 points and 10 rebounds marked his sixth double-double of the season, while Alfonso Plummer capped a big weekend with 18 points for Utah in a 79-65 win over USC on Sunday night. The Utes split with the Los Angeles schools over the weekend after a loss to UCLA on Thursday … The Utes are 0-7 on the road vs. the Pac-12 with this Bay Area swing standing as the final road trip. Washington State is also winless on the road in the Pac-12. The Cougars are 0-6 with trips to Washington, Arizona and Arizona State still to go … Freshman point guard Rylan Jones exited Sunday’s game with 3:10 remaining after he collided with USC’s Daniel Utomi while taking a charge. Jones appeared to injure his shin or ankle on the play, and did not return. Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak did not have a status update as of Monday afternoon.

About the Cardinal: At 18-9 overall and 7-7 in the Pac-12 Stanford is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Cardinal helped their own cause over the weekend by sweeping the Washington schools on the road. In a 75-57 win over Washington State on Sunday, junior forward Oscar da Silva led three players in double figures with 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds … Thursday is a critical game for Stanford’s NCAA Tournament hopes. Utah’s NET of 81 makes it a Quadrant 3 opportunity. A Stanford loss would be a crusher for its resume. The Cardinal have three Quadrant 1 opportunities remaining against Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State … da Silva, an All-Pac-12 first-team candidate, leads Stanford in scoring (16.0 PPG) and rebounding (6.5 RPG). In the first meeting vs. Utah on Feb. 6, a 64-56 Utes victory in overtime, da Silva finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 4-for-12 from the floor.