Pac-12 Tournament pits Utes against Cardinal

Las Vegas, NV ( - The quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament wraps up Thursday with a matchup pitting the sixth- seeded Stanford Cardinal against the 17th-ranked and third-seeded Utah Utes at MGM Grand Garden Arena.


The winner of this clash advances to the semifinal round of the tournament on Friday, where a trip to the championship bout will be on the line.


Stanford trailed Washington for the final few minutes of Wednesday's opening- round contest, up until guard Chasson Randle buried a 3-pointer with three seconds left on the clock to give his Cardinal a 71-69 victory over the Huskies, allowing Stanford to advance to the quarterfinal round.


Utah had a stellar season, but tailed off a bit toward the end with losses in three of the team's final five games. Still, the Utes were able to garner the third seed in the league after going 13-5 against conference competition, finishing the regular season with a 23-7 overall record.


The Utes and Cardinal met only one time during the regular season midway through February, which saw Utah come away with a 75-59 win in Salt Lake City.


Stanford took a six-point lead in the first half of the first-round contest against Washington, but the Huskies battled back to tie the score at the intermission. Washington grabbed a seven-point lead midway through the second period, but Stanford was able to come back from that as well. Stefan Nastic led the charge for the Cardinal in the contest, netting 21 points with five rebounds. Anthony Brown chipped in 16 points, and Randle finished the game with 10 and six assists. Washington took three attempts from the free-throw line all game, and didn't make a single one from the charity stripe.

Randle, who finished second in the Pac-12 during the regular season in scoring, enters this clash with Utah netting a team-best 18.8 ppg on 39 percent shooting for a Stanford squad scoring 72.8 ppg as a unit. The Cardinal are going for just their second conference tournament title in program history, looking for their first championship since the 2004 campaign. Against Utah last month, Stanford shot only 37.7 percent from the floor in the loss, while Brown led the way with 15 points. Randle shot a dismal 2-of-11 from the field, and finished with 10 points in the loss to the defensive-minded Utes.

Utah took on struggling Washington to close out the regular-season slate, but things didn't end so well for the Utes. Utah still shot 52 percent from the floor in the defeat, but Washington was allowed to hit on 51 percent of its tries and gain advantages from 3-point range and at the free-throw line to earn the win. Star guard Delon Wright scored 21 points to pace Utah, while Jakob Poeltl added 18 with five rebounds and Jordan Loveridge netted 11 points with a team-best four assists. The Utes dominated play at home during the season, going 16-1 when playing in Sal Lake City.


Wright capped his sensational season with a team-leading 14.7 ppg average, adding in 5.3 apg to finish third in the conference rankings. He was followed by Brandon Taylor (10.4 ppg) and Loveridge (10.2 ppg) in the scoring department, but the Utes prided themselves mainly on the defensive side of the ball. Utah allowed just 56.6 ppg to opponents, which graded out as the league's best scoring defense in the regular season. In the only regular- season meeting between Stanford and Utah, Wright scored 15 points and the Utes connected on 49 percent of their shots to bury the Cardinal in the 16-point victory.


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