SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Jakob Poeltl scored 23 points and Utah cruised to a 96-74 victory over Stanford Saturday at the Huntsman Center.
The win moves the Utes (17-5, 6-3 Pac-12) a half game behind Oregon and Washington for the conference lead.
Poeltl caught fire in the second half and the Cardinal had no answer for the 7-foot Austrian. He scored 10 straight and 12 of Utah’s 14 points during a second-half stretch that pushed the lead to 14. Stanford never made a significant run afterward.
“I kept telling our guys if we can get some stops and commit to playing some defense, we can blow the roof off the building,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “Then in the second half, we held them to 30 percent (shooting). I thought that was the key.”
Kyle Kuzma scored 16 points for Utah, while Brandon Taylor finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Dorian Pickens and Rosco Allen led Stanford (11-9, 4-5) with 16 points apiece.
A Brekkott Chapman 3-pointer gave the Utes a 13-point lead in the first half, but the Cardinal put together a run, capped by a Marcus Sheffield layup, and went into halftime trailing 48-39.
Utah was sharp at the free throw line and ultimately put the game away in the second half with charity shots. The Runnin’ Utes were 32 of 42 from the line, 76.2 percent.
“I don’t know if there are many teams in the country who shoot more free throws than us,” Krystkowiak said. “The other night against Cal, Jakob was 7-14, he bounced back stronger than ever tonight. I think our guys found a rhythm. It is up between the ears for most guys. But for the most part, it was important. There is a reason they call them free. We have to cash in on more of them than we do.”
The victory is No. 5 in a row for Utah.
“We still have a long way to go,” said Utes guard Brandon Taylor. “We won five games in a row. It is a good feeling. But we know we still have a lot to improve. We don’t want to settle on this little five-game streak. We want to continue on with post season play and so on.”
Stanford: The Cardinal are 0-2 on their current three-game road trip. … The Cardinal beat Utah in Stanford 70-68 in overtime on New Year’s Day. … Allen entered the game scoring 20-plus point in four of the previous six games. … The Cardinal entered the game shooting 29.1 percent from 3-point range. They went 3 of 25 (12 percent) in the game.
Utah: The Utes have won five consecutive Pac-12 games after starting 1-3 in conference. … The Utes had five players score double-figures. … Poeltl is the reigning Pac-12 player of the week and Oscar Robertson national player of the week. He has scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. … Utah outrebounded Stanford 37-29.
The Utes had struggled shooting from long range at just 30.9 percent in conference play, but made 8 of 17 (47.1 percent) from behind the arc on Saturday.
The two teams combined to shoot 65 free throws, including 42 from Utah. The Cardinal tried to get back in the game by fouling the last 2:43 of the game.
Stanford travels to face California on Saturday.
Utah travels to face Oregon State on Thursday.
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