Utah looks to remain unbeaten in conference play on Saturday when it visits Pac-12 rival Stanford.
The Utes (10-4, 3-0 Pac-12) have won their first three games to open conference play for the first time since 2014-15. Utah, in fact, only won four Pac-12 games all of last season.
The Utes countered a sluggish performance on offense with a sterling effort on defense in their 58-43 victory over California on Thursday. Utah limited the Bears to just 34.1 percent shooting from the floor (15 of 44) and 16.7 percent from 3-point range (2 of 12).
“The bright side is we held them to 43 points,” Utes coach Craig Smith said, per the Deseret News. “That is hard to do. I don’t care who you play, when you play. To do that, that is hard. Defense travels, so super excited about that.”
Branden Carlson, who averages a team-best 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds, had 11 and six, respectively, on Thursday. He misfired on all four of his 3-point attempts in a game in which Utah shot a season-low 15.8 percent from beyond the arc (3 of 19).
Carlson scored 13 points and Gabe Madsen sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining in the second half of the Utes’ 60-56 victory at Stanford last season.
As for the Cardinal (5-8, 0-3), they fell for the fifth time in seven games with a 73-70 setback versus Colorado on Thursday. Three of Stanford’s eight losses this season have been by four points or fewer.
“It’s obvious we’re close against a lot of good teams,” Cardinal coach Jerod Haase said. “We need to find a way to squeeze out another basket, one more stop in order to finish the deal.”
Spencer Jones scored a season-high 25 points en route to becoming the school’s 50th member of the 1,000-point club. He also had a team high-tying six rebounds to go along with two blocks and two steals.
Jones averages a team-leading 12.0 points per game. Michael Jones (10.1) is the lone other Stanford player averaging in double digits.
–Field Level Media