The Utah coaching staff struggled for weeks with starting slow in Pac-12 games.
There didn’t appear to be many clear answers.
In all but one conference game — a road win over Washington — Utah faced sizable early deficits, with missed shots and turnovers being the main culprits.
That changed with Brandon Taylor’s insertion into the starting lineup in Saturday’s 58-55 victory over Colorado at the Huntsman Center. Coach Larry Krystkowiak juggled his rotation, placing Taylor at the point and moving Glen Dean off the ball.
The Utes suddenly were the ones striking first. Utah found a spark among its reserves by making Jarred DuBois the first man off the bench.
Utah suddenly featured a different dynamic.
“Brandon did an excellent job of running the offense and getting us into our stuff and getting guys shots,” Krystkowiak said Monday. “He has to do it consistently, and he has to do it at the end of games, and there was a lesson learned with that. Toward the end, he dribbled the ball a little too much, but I was very happy with his performance.”
As Utah prepares to face Oregon State on Wednesday, Taylor’s progression from the end of the bench to a 30-minute guy every game has been a little remarkable.
With Dean and DuBois struggling to create shots for others, Taylor’s presence has coincided with a more free-flowing offense.
The 5-foot-9 freshman is the best player on the team at running Krystkowiak’s pick-and-roll sets. He’s among the best shooters, and he’s made important plays.
DuBois played 30 minutes off the bench Saturday, a trend that figures to continue. Krystkowiak also admitted Monday that he should’ve played freshman big man Jeremy Olsen more than the 14 minutes he logged Saturday.
The 6-10 freshman will loom large in the rotation against a big frontcourt at Oregon State and Oregon this week, Krystkowiak said. Olsen and Taylor have taken similar paths from afterthoughts to important pieces.
“He’s one of those guys who can really score in the paint,” senior center Jason Washburn said about Olsen. “He has a lot of confidence, and he’s gotten into shape and he’s gotten a lot better since the season started.”
Utah at Oregon State
O Wednesday, 8 p.m.
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