Among Utah scholarship players, freshmen Brandon Taylor and Jeremy Olsen have become almost forgotten, languishing for the most part at the end of the bench.
That changed for Taylor on Tuesday night.
A skinny point guard, Taylor became a major force in Utah's 62-53 win over SMU at the Huntsman Center. Entering the game late in the first half with Larry Krystkowiak almost out of options, Taylor scored 10 points in 12 minutes and sparked the Utes to rally for their seventh win of the season.
"I think the major change is that whenever I've gotten in, I've been sped up and I've made mistakes," Taylor said. "Tonight, I was comfortable and I slowed down and took my time. It made a difference because I was relaxed out there."
When it looked like Utah was in danger of being run out of the Huntsman Center, Taylor got his team back into the game with his shot-making and defense.
First, he made a steal and a layup on the other end. Then he hit a 3-pointer. He made another steal and lay-in, and completed a big three-point play in the second half.
Taylor had been frustrated with his lack of playing time. But he stayed ready. He's played hard in practice, stayed patient and bided his time. His scoring output and 24 minutes are both career-highs. He's set himself up to receive playing time in the future.
"He's a good example of what we need," Krystkowiak said. "It's a long season, and you need everyone to play if you are going to be successful. He made the most of his opportunity, and that's what college basketball is all about. He really helped us out tonight, and we needed everything he did."