Larry Krystkowiak said he didn’t have any magic coaching tricks up his sleeve.
There were no pep talks, no intricate formulas that were going to propel Utah out of trouble against Oregon State and to a win on Saturday afternoon. So he stood on the sideline — arms folded — with 14,044 watching, and let his team figure it all out.
A 16-point lead had been cut to a single basket. There were six minutes remaining, and the Huntsman Center was antsy. A second home loss to start the Pac-12 season seemed possible. But the Utes proved steely at the best time, scoring the next seven points and cruising to an 80-69 win over the Beavers.
It was one of those moments that can define a team.
“I wish I could tell you guys that it was me, but it wasn’t,” Krystkowiak said. “The guys on the floor stepped up.”
In many ways, Utah’s first conference win belongs to Brandon Taylor.
The diminutive sophomore guard scored a career-high 23 points, and handed out eight assists.
With his team clinging to a 63-60 lead, he jump-started a 15-5 run with five consecutive points to supply the Utes with a comfortable cushion.
Taylor entered Saturday afternoon in a lengthy 3-point shooting slump. He ended the win over OSU with five makes from beyond the arc in six attempts.
“I wasn’t really thinking about anything,” Taylor said. “I was just trying to make a play for my team. Today was important. We only made three 3s against Oregon. We are a good shooting team and we had some good looks. After what happened against Oregon, losing wasn’t an option for us tonight.”
Utah struggled offensively against Oregon on Thursday night, but had no such issues against OSU.
The Utes made a season-high 12 3-pointers. They shot 58 percent from the field overall, and put all five starters in double-figures.
In addition to Taylor’s output, Delon Wright and Jeremy Olsen each had 14 points. Dakarai Tucker had 13, and Jordan Loveridge had 10.
Wright was superb all-around, grabbing seven rebounds, handing out six assists, blocking three shots and coming up with two steals, all while not committing a turnover.
Two big runs proved to benefit Utah.
Trailing 17-15 in the middle of the first half, the Utes scored 18 consecutive points for a 33-17 advantage that allowed them to take control. The run down the stretch proved to be the back-breaker, as the Beavers couldn’t get close again.
“Right from the start it looked like we weren’t prepared to play,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. “We got them to turn the ball over three times and we didn’t cash in on it and that just set the tone for the rest of the game. We never really recovered because even when Utah got the big lead and we cut it down, our turnovers got us back into trouble again.
Utah moves to 12-2 on the season, and is at the .500 mark in league play for only the second time in three seasons.
Maybe the most important aspect of Taylor’s play was his defense on Roberto Nelson, holding the leading scorer in the conference to 16 points and forcing him into four turnovers. The Utes assisted on 23 of their 29 baskets, and turned the ball over only eight times.
Storylines Utah 80, Oregon State 69
R Utah’s Brandon Taylor scores a career-high 23 points, adds eight assists and plays good defense on league-leading scorer Roberto Nelson.
• An 18-0 run in the first half gives the Utes control, and a 15-5 run late preserves a narrow lead.
• Utah moves to 12-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play on the season.