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Runnin' Utes Brandon Taylor Standing Above the Rest

Utah junior point guard Brandon Taylor has elevated his production since Pac-12 play began and is currently the teams leading scorer in the conference portion of the season.
Utah junior point guard Brandon Taylor has elevated his production since Pac-12 play began and is currently the teams leading scorer in the conference portion of the season.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Since the University of Utah became a member of the Pac-12, one thing became a year-after-year trend in basketball, that the Runnin' Utes leaders would see a notable drop-off in scoring once conference play began. This year, that trend has remained the same... sort of. Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge have seen their scoring averages drop in conference play, but one Utes player has improved his average against Pac-12 opponents, junior guard Brandon Taylor.

Believe it or not, Brandon Taylor is the Utes leading scorer since Pac-12 play began at 12.9 points per game. Wright is slightly behind his running mate at 12.3 points per game. Loveridge, the third of the triumvirate, averages less than double figures in the Pac-12 at 9.8 points per game.

Taylor has been ripping the nets of late and is coming off a 6-of-9 performance from three-point range against Colorado in Boulder. The 5-10 native of Los Angeles, Calif. is shooting 47.2 percent from downtown on the season. That would be enough for Taylor to have to ice his hands afterward, but he's shooting a blistering 57.1 percent against Pac-12 competition.

But Taylor isn't satisfied with just three-point shooting. He's also averaging 53.8 percent shooting overall and 92.9 percent from the free throw line. At the end of the game, there's no better player on the team to have the ball than Taylor, including Wooden Award candidate Wright. And, just to make things interesting, Taylor tosses in 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. In fact, the man Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak has called "little warrior" has been so productive in conference play, media members are starting to talk about him as an All Pac-12 caliber player.

Taylor's Fast Breaks:

  • His six made threes against Colorado places Taylor in a tie for third on the Utes all-time single game list.
  • His 47.1 three-point shooting percentage places him currently second on the Utes all-time single season list (ahead of Alex Jensen - 46 percent and behind Shaun Green - 51.2 percent).

Outside of even the statistics, Taylor's greatest contribution may be in simple peace of mind, fan peace of mind that is. Many have wondered what the Runnin' Utes will look like in 2015-2016 after the departure of do-everything guard Delon Wright to the NBA. At Colorado, when Wright didn't start the second half due to what is being called knee pain, Taylor gave Utah fans a glimpse of what that future might look like. He directed the team, made good decisions with the ball, and... yes, nailed two three pointers to help the Utes start a 9-0 run to open the half. Especially with the emergence of freshmen like versatile 6-9 forward Kyle Kuzma, equally dangerous 6-8 forward Brekkott Chapman, and point guard Isaiah Wright (not to mention Austrian 7-footer Jakob Poeltl), the future looks bright.

Free Throws:

  • Utah's Pac-12 margin of victory stands at +24.6. Utah is third nationally in scoring margin at +18.1.
  • Utah's current home winning streak stands at 15 games (dating back to last season), the longest run in the Jon M. Huntsman Center since the 2004-05 seasons (21 games).
  • The Utes are one of five teams nationally to have not allowed an opponent to score more than 72 points this season and are the only team to rank among the top 10 teams nationally in offensive and defensive points per possession.
  • Utah is currently shooting 50 percent from the field (fifth in the nation). That number is buoyed byPoeltl shooting 66.4 percent (first in the Pac-12) and Wright at 53.2 percent (sixth).