When asked about his freshman point guard, Jerod Haase smiled. “That light is very, very green.”
Tyrell Terry put on a shooting display today in Maples, and Stanford needed every bit of it to stave off a relentless Utah team. His 7 threes were one off the school record, and they weren’t the easiest of looks. In one second half stretch, he turned a pair of fast breaks into pull up threes that found nothing but the bottom of the net. It was an absolute clinic.
“I honestly couldn’t hit a shot in warmups,” laughed Terry.
Early on, it didn’t seem that any such heroics would be necessary. Stanford’s top-ten nationally ranked defense gave the Utes fits. Bryce Wills marked savvy scorer Timmy Allen, and kept him from getting any inkling of space. Daejon Davis was on second leading scorer Rylan Jones, and he blocked out any semblance of joy for the Ute ball handler. At the half, the visitors racked up 12 turnovers (thanks to 8 Stanford steals) against just 5 assists.
“We really take a step forward when we play with energy,” said Terry, about the defense.
They executed well offensively, too. It’s getting almost repetitive talking about the strong play of Oscar da Silva; he’s gotten as consistent as they come. He found some success going right into the body of the shot blocker Branden Carlson and put up 13 points on 5-6 in the first period. The Cardinal led by as many as 18.
In Pac-12 basketball this year, though, everyone has a run in them. Stanford went nearly 7 minutes without a point, spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. Utah cut deep into the deficit, and suddenly found some success in the half court. Part of it might have been the energy, but Coach Larry Krystkowiak also made some astute adjustments.
“They did a nice job getting Timmy Allen different looks to get him going downhill,” said Haase. “When he gets 10 feet and in, he’s as good as it gets in college basketball.” After a quiet first half, Allen was in attack mode in the second. He scored 13 points on 6-9 shooting after the break, and relentlessly found his way into deep position.
Allen’s day was made much easier when Bryce Wills went out. In Salt Lake, Wills left the game with 9 minutes remaining after sustaining an ankle injury. Today, he left the game with 9 minutes remaining after sustaining an ankle injury. Things got a bit hairy after his departure.
Despite all the bombs from Terry, Both Gach’s layup made it a 3 point game with 3 to go. Utah even had a couple ensuing chances to tie the game. In one puzzling play call, Krystkowiak used a baseline out of bounds to apparently draw up a three point attempt for their center, who attempted only 7 threes all year before today (he went 1-5 today). Stanford got the stops needed, yet struggled to score and put them away.
After the teams traded two minutes of scoreless ball, Stanford had possession with 1 minute remaining. They ran a high ball screen with Terry and Spencer Jones, and both Ute defenders stayed with the hot hand. Jones slipped to the wing, where Terry found him. Instead of taking the shot himself, he hit the man that the close out was helping off of, and that just so happened to be Jaiden Delaire.
“I think a few weeks ago [Jaiden] would’ve looked over his shoulder at me and wondered if I was gonna yell at him to shoot the basketball,” said Haase. “He stepped in, in rhythm. I had a great deal of confidence in him.”
Jaiden confidently drained the three to give Stanford a 6 point advantage with less than a minute remaining, and the Utes would never again have a real chance. For Delaire, that shot was emblematic of the work he’s been putting in. He’s seen a recent uptick in play, and his teammates and coaches say he’s earned it. “Instead of hoping that things go well, he’s worked at it,” said Haase. “He’s worked and worked and worked.”
Another play where he really shined came in the first half. Delaire was switched onto Timmy Allen defensively, when the swing man had a slight mishandle of the ball. Jaiden dove toward Allen’s feet to swipe the ball before he could corral it. That floor burn would lead to one of Terry’s 7 triples.
Delaire finished with 11 points on the night off the bench. Terry led the way with his 27 points, and Oscar contributed 20 points and 7 rebounds. Stanford finished with 15 assists against just 9 turnovers, and won the points off turnovers battle 23-7. This came on a night where Davis and Wills combined for 2 points, and Isaac White and Spencer Jones couldn’t convert on great looks.
Utah was led by Allen’s 17 and Gach’s 15. Branden Carlson had 8 blocks for the second straight time against Stanford. In his other 25 games, he’s blocked 25 shots. In the two against the Cardinal, he’s blocked 16. Rylan Jones, normally a double figure scorer, managed just 2 points on 0-3 from the floor.
“We were able to make just enough plays to get it done,” said Haase. Survive and advance.
By my estimation, Stanford likely needs three more victories (counting Vegas) to go dancing. They’ll get a chance at a Quad 1 win when Colorado comes to Maples on Sunday, and then two more when they head to Oregon next week.