Utah basketball: Guard Brandon Taylor vows Utes will go 'full throttle' at Pac-12 tourney

Published: Tuesday, March 11 2014 3:56 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes guard Brandon Taylor (11) looks for an outlet as Arizona Wildcats guard T.J. McConnell (right) applies pressure during a game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

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LAS VEGAS — It remains to be seen if things will be different the second time around for the Utah Utes at the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Last year, they knocked off USC and California to make a surprise appearance in the semifinals, where eventual champion Oregon ended the Cinderella run. The first Pac-12 tourney Utah participated in was at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Utes were ousted by champ Colorado in the first round that year.

The tournament’s move to Vegas last March proved to be Utah’s coming-out party of sorts. Sophomore guard Brandon Taylor said the experience is both helpful and relevant going into this Pac-12 tournament.

“They know who we are. What can I say?” Taylor said. “Whether we’re sneaking up or we’re attacking, we’re coming full throttle. That’s for sure. We’re coming full throttle.”

FINAL PREPARATIONS: Utah practiced at nearby Clark High on Tuesday morning. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak said the rest of the preparations for Wednesday’s noon game with Washington will be very similar to last Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. game at Stanford.

“It’s not like a shock to our systems to have to do that,” he noted. “We’ll get to bed early, an early dinner tonight.”

Krystkowiak said the players typically eat a meal 3 1/2 to four hours before a game and then “you don’t have much time to pack up your little duffel bag and get ready to head off and then it’s on.”

WILCOX FIRED UP: After not making the Pac-12’s all-conference first team, former Pleasant Grove star C.J. Wilcox of Washington addressed the topic at a press conference in Seattle. The senior, who is fourth in the Pac-12 with 18.5 points per game, acknowledged that the snub will add to the aggressive mentality he planned to bring to Vegas for the tournament.

“I understand why he’s mad because he didn’t make it. He could be on the team,” said Utah guard Delon Wright, who made the first team. “But things happen. So I understand why he’s mad.”

Wilcox may have stoked the fire for Saturday’s game, however, with another comment he made.

“I like matching up against Utah,” he said. “I feel like we can definitely get that one done.”

GOOD SHOW: Utah’s team-building exercise to watch the “The Beatles: Love” show by Cirque Du Soleil Monday at The Mirage was a big hit.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said junior center Dallin Bachynski, who knew about 80 percent of the songs because his mother liked The Beatles. “I’ve been to a couple of Cirque Du Soleil shows before and it’s amazing what people can do. The fact that they do it twice a night — just the consistency that they have — is something that you actually look to yourself and see if you can kind of do.

“Because if we as a basketball team can have the consistency that they have then, well, the Pac-12 tournament would be kind of an easy feat,” he continued. “So I put a respect to the people that perform for Cirque Du Soleil and all the choreographers that go into it because it makes an amazing, amazing show.”

THEY KNOW: No need to remind the Utes that Saturday’s 61-60 loss at Stanford cost them a first-round bye and put them in a bracket for a quarterfinal meeting with Pac-12 regular-season champion Arizona.

“You can’t do anything about it now. We’ll just try to learn from it once again,” Wright said. “And just go into the tournament and see what happens. Hopefully we can get some good wins.”

Taylor reiterated what he said before leaving Maples Pavilion — he’s not worried about where the Utes are seeded. Taylor evoked the ol’ “It is what it is” response.

“It really doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’ll come prepared and we’ll come ready to play hard.”

VERY CONFIDENT: Taylor wasn’t lacking any confidence before Utah’s final practice in Salt Lake City on Monday. When asked if felt the Utes could compete with anyone, he retorted with a statement that he “knows” they can.

“When we play as a team, when we play together, when we’re aggressive, when we execute our game plan and we run,” Taylor noted, “we compete with the best of them in the country. So there’s no doubt in my mind that we can compete with anybody in this league.”

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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