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January 5, 2014

Utes bounce back against Oregon State

In many ways Saturday's game against Oregon State would tell more about the University of Utah basketball program than Thursday night's loss against Oregon. How would they respond after losing a game that was in their grasp? Would they stay cold from three-point range? How would play against an Oregon State team with superior size?

The answer came in statement fashion from the smallest guy on the court, Brandon Taylor, as the sophomore guard led the Utes to an 80-69 victory.

Taylor came out firing, dishing, defending, and causing havoc-the Beavers just couldn't contain him or shake him-on his way to a career high 23 points, eight assists, and only one turnover.

"Brandon was terrific on defense, just completely dialed in. We are a good defensive team and we could be even better if everyone played like Brandon," said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. "He gets in passing lanes, is always talking and has one of the biggest hearts. He is also our best shooter and I've seen that look in his eye before. That's why we signed him. I've seen him play like that before so I'm glad he broke out of it today. Sometimes he fakes his way into tougher shots, but tonight he let it fly."

Not to be outdone, Delon Wright continued his impressive, steady play with 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and three impressive blocks. Wright-who feels he has not been scoring enough lately-has been doing whatever he can to impact the game. "I think I'm putting myself in the right spot," he said. "I haven't been scoring a lot so I'm trying to do whatever I can. I know the blocks hype up the crowd."

Jeremy Olsen got the start at center for the Utes on Saturday and delivered his best game of the season with 14 points and five boards in 24 minutes. The move had less to do with anything regular starter Renan Lenz had done and more to do with the matchup against a lengthy Oregon State squad.

"Jeremy started tonight because this is one of the biggest teams in the league," said Krystkowiak. "I didn't want to disrupt Dallin's rhythm because he has been coming off the bench. I wanted to see if Jeremy could come out and be productive offensively since he's very effective in the low post with his type of game. I thought it would be important to have Renan spell Jordan at the '4' because of OSU's height."

The Utes went into the game leading the nation in field goal percentage and did nothing to change that as they shot 58% for the game. Still, they only found themselves up 63-60 late into the game.

Up by only three, the Utes refused to back down and Taylor took the game over scoring five consecutive points. Wright then put the exclamation point on the decisive run by driving and dishing to Olsen for a dagger jam with just over four minutes remaining.

With their first Pac-12 win of the 2013-14 season in hand, the Utes now go on the road for their first extended road trip to face the Washington Huskies (9-6) and Washington State Cougars (7-6).

Making it Rain

After a horrendous 3-19 shooting performance from three-point range against the Ducks, the Utes drilled 12-22 against the Beavers (Taylor 5, Dakarai Tucker 3, and Jordan Loveridge 2).


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