College hoops • With extended minutes vs. Washington State, backups show potential.
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Pullman, Wash. • Brandon Taylor may be a wispy 5-foot-9 freshman point guard. But he displayed yo-yo ballhandling skills, has a jumpshot that actually goes in, and showed the moxie to make plays for Utah.
Justin Seymour may have just turned 19 years old on Wednesday. But the freshman shooting guard rebounds like a veteran, can slash to the basket and play a little defense too.
Ute fans, don't feel bad for not knowing this. The two have seen little playing time over the last two months, especially Taylor. When receiving extended minutes against Washington State, though, the two produced and showed the skills that may warrant more playing time in the future.
And neither acted like anyone should be surprised.
"I just went out and played my game," Taylor said.
Used mostly as the third-team point guard, Taylor played 26 minutes against WSU, scoring 13 points, handing out three assists and grabbing three rebounds. Beyond the numbers, he created offense on a team starving for a guy who can penetrate off the dribble.
Taylor pushed the ball in transition, made open jumpshots, and finished in the lane despite being by far the smallest guy on the court.
Seymour scored 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and had five assists. He played tough. He stuck his nose into crowds, pulling out rebounds. He provided a threat in transition. He played unyielding defense.
In the wake of a 75-65 defeat, Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak strongly hinted at serious changes to the rotation. With the Utes suffering their fifth consecutive Pac-12 defeat, players who weren't seeing time all of a sudden got extended minutes.
"I think there are guys who have made a good case for more opportunities," Krystkowiak said. "Brandon and Justin both played very well. Now they got some opportunities because we were scrapping and pressing and trying to get back into the game. But those guys really played well, and I think they deserve some chances."
Krystkowiak didn't say whether he would make an adjustment to the starting lineup. Still, regular point guard Glen Dean played just three minutes in the second half against Washington State. Starting shooting guard Jarred DuBois played more, but not by much.
When Taylor and Seymour were in the game, the pace quickened. Utah got into its offense, and the Utes were able to receive open shots because Taylor penetrated, drew defenders and kicked out to the perimeter.
"He's always been a good player he's just needed to opportunity to show it," Seymour said. "He's a guy who can make plays, and he's a great defender despite his size. I thought he proved a lot today."