Elaine Thompson, AP
SALT LAKE CITY — When Brandon Taylor accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Utah, he looked forward to coming to a situation where he could help rebuild the Utes.
Last week, the freshman guard made the most of increased opportunities to do so.
Three days after leading the team in scoring at Washington State, Taylor led the Utes to their first-ever Pac-12 road win with 19 points, six assists and two steals in a 74-65 victory over Washington.
“He’s got a lot of savvy and moxie,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “He’s as good of a shooter as we have on our team, he played with a lot of confidence and that’s what we needed.”
Taylor uses the word “poise” to describe his game. He’s determined to maintain it at all times.
“That’s the biggest thing for me — just to go out there and play comfortable,” Taylor said. “I like to just be in a flow. I don’t like to take too long to get into the flow of things. I like to come there, be prepared and get my work done.”
As a reserve, Taylor understands the importance of being ready to go in at any time. It’s his role. He vows not to ever be off in “la-la land” while sitting on the bench.
And that’s exactly where Taylor spent most of his college career prior to last week’s trip to Washington State and Washington. Before logging a combined 56 minutes against the Cougars and the Huskies, Taylor had played just 83 minutes during 12 previous appearances.
“Was it hard? Yeah, I’m not going to lie. It was,” Taylor said. “My thing was not getting caught up in the moment.”
Taylor didn’t complain. He just had to be ready whenever Krystkowiak needed him.
Patience is part of the process, Taylor acknowledged.
“It was just a matter of time that my mindset gets right. I knew I wasn’t going to come out and just do what I was doing like in high school or something like that,” he said. “You have to get experience and I still don’t have, like, enough experience yet. But there was never, like, any doubt I couldn’t play at this level or anything like that.”
Taylor’s confidence hasn’t wavered. Over the past two games, the 5-foot-10 point guard from West Hollywood, Calif., has made 10-of-16 shots from the field — including 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Taylor also had nine assists, five rebounds and four steals on the trip.
Getting everything under control, having a lot of poise and making the right plays, Taylor explained, is “my thing.”
It worked against Washington as Utah never trailed. Taylor repeatedly came through when needed.
“He did what Brandon Taylor does. Brandon Taylor is a completely fine-tuned offensive machine. You know what I mean? That kid can shoot and score with the best of them,” said senior center Jason Washburn. “He did a good job of running the ball club tonight, too, and playing some really good defense.”
Washburn added that Taylor is earning every second of his playing time. Continued contributions from Taylor will be needed as the season progresses as Utah plays host to California on Thursday and Stanford on Sunday.
Taylor, though, isn’t looking too far ahead.
“I just look forward to the next play to be honest with you. Who knows how many minutes I’ll play the next game, or the next game after that,” he said. “I’m just staying keyed and locked into whatever I have to do in the future. I’m just ready to take on the task I need to take on.”
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