Utah’s defense has been key to efficient offense

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By Griffin Adams and Griffin Adams

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In their last outing, the No. 11 Runnin’ Utes were on fire from three-point land, hitting 13 three-pointers on the night against Colorado. Point guard Brandon Taylor led the way that night with 18 points, with all of those points coming from behind the arc.

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Utah’s offense is shooting 50 percent from the field this season, good enough for No. 5 in the country. But to make that stat even more impressive, throw in the fact that the Utes are shooting 41 percent from deep and this squad is deadly from the field.

While there are a flurry of good shooters on this Utah team, Taylor credits the efficient shooting to the players’ willingness to pass the rock.

“Taking good shots and sharing the ball, that simple,” he said. “ It’s easy because it’s not like anyone is stat-hungry on this team. Everyone steps up and does their part. It’s safe to say that I think we’re a team that likes to share the ball with each other.”

Head coach Larry Krystkowiak echoed his guard’s feelings.

“It’s not that you think less about yourself, it’s that you think of yourself less,” Krystkowiak said. “It’s something we preach and it has the same impact if you were to have a selfish team.”

But don’t forget about the well-known Utah defense. The way these Utes have been able to shut down opponents this season has been well-documented, but the tenacious defense has more of an effect on the game than you might think.

Krystkowiak has mentioned time and time again how he thinks the team’s good defense has led to the team’s efficient offense. Taylor, who is a strong candidate for a spot on the All-Pac-12 Defensive team, knows it all starts with hard-nosed defense.

“I think you get dialed in first defensively, dialed in defending somebody,” Taylor said. “When you defend somebody, the offense kinda’ comes on its own. But at the end of the day and if you play the game the right way, you gotta’ get down and defend somebody.

“Offense, it could come and go, you can win a game without having a hell of an offensive game. When you defend somebody, its almost like good karma. On defense, you take pride in defending and then the offense is gonna’ come.”

With Stanford coming into town on Thursday evening, Utah will need both its offense and defense if it wants to defeat the Cardinal. Stanford is led by Chasson Randle, the Pac-12’s leading scorer with 20.3 points per game. It’s clear the point guard knows how to score the basketball, but what sticks out about Randle is the array of moves he has to get those points.

“He has a lot of things that he does well in his game, he’s just a good all-around player,” Taylor said of Randle. “He can shoot, he can attack, he picks his spots on the floor very, very well. That’s just something we got to get dialed in and guard him.”

Taylor and the Runnin’ Utes are scheduled to tip-off against the Cardinal at 7:00 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

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