LAS VEGAS (AP) — Utah has labored with its shooting late in the season and seemed to be floundering again early against Stanford.
Once the shots started falling, the Utes couldn’t seem to miss.
Delon Wright scored 20 points, Jordan Loveridge added 18 and No. 17 Utah ran away from Stanford in the second half for an 80-56 victory in the Pac-12 quarterfinals Thursday night.
“It was good to get that mojo back, which we haven’t really had except for the Arizona State game,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
Utah (24-7) had a few offensive problems in the first half, but found a rhythm in the second.
The third-seeded Utes hit 14 of 28 shots in the second half and were 12 of 19 from 3-point range overall to earn a spot in Friday’s semifinals against second-seeded Oregon.
Utah also turned up the defensive pressure in the final 20 minutes, holding the Cardinal to 6 of 24 shooting. Jakob Poeltl added 16 points for the Utes, who struggled down the stretch of the regular season.
“We wanted a clean slate,” Loveridge said. “This is our postseason. We wanted to come out as well as we could.”
Stanford (19-13) pulled off an upset in the opening round, but faded against the fresher Utes in the second half.
Chasson Randle had 22 points and Stefan Nastic added 11 for the Cardinal, who scored 17 second-half points after playing a tough game the night before.
“I’m not sure if fatigue was a factor, but there’s no excuses,” Randle said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Utah doesn’t have to worry, it’s making the NCAA Tournament, but would like to at least go in with a little momentum after losing three of its final five.
Stanford’s only shot was to win the Pac-12 tournament and the Cardinal took the first step by knocking off Washington 71-69 on a last-second 3-pointer by Randle.
The Utes won the lone meeting between these teams by 16 on Feb. 12 after holding Randle to 10 points.
Randle was feeling good early against the Utes in the rematch, at one point pulling up for a long 3-pointer in transition. He had 12 points and Nastic 11, helping the Cardinal build a 39-34 lead.
Utah has struggled with shooting lately and had trouble at times against Stanford’s zone in the first half. The Utes still managed to make 13 of 26 shots, with Wright and Loveridge scoring 10 points each.
Utah turned the tables to start the second half, making three of its first four shots while turning up the defensive pressure on the Cardinal.
The Utes went on an 11-2 run to go up 45-41, then Isaiah Wright and Loveridge hit consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to seven.
Randle tried to keep Stanford in it with his shooting, but Utah kept making shots, going up 67-49 on consecutive 3-pointers by Delon Wright and Loveridge.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I always feel like we have a chance. They were able to set a tone and it was difficult for us to respond.”
Stanford: Randle was called for a flagrant foul for taking down Poeltl in transition midway through the second half.
Utah: The Utes made 8 of 12 3-pointers in the second half and 14 of 18 free throws overall.
Stanford: Will wait to see if it makes a postseason tournament.
Utah: Will face Oregon in the semifinals Friday night.
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