SALT LAKE CITY — Few assignments come tougher than what Utah guard Brandon Taylor was asked to do against Oregon State.
The Utes counted on Taylor to act as a defensive stopper against the Pac-12's leading scorer, Roberto Nelson, on one end of the court. On the other end, the sophomore drew an additional task of helping Utah establish a better rhythm from the perimeter. Taylor responded with one of the finest games of his basketball career. He scored 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting and dished out eight assists to lead Utah to an 80-69 victory over Oregon State on Saturday afternoon.
Taylor committed only one turnover in 34 minutes on the court. On the other end, he forced Nelson to commit four turnovers and held him 5.5 points below his season average.
"I could lie to you and say I drew up all kinds of fancy stuff — rubbed my fingers together and created all this magic," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Brandon just had that look in his eye. I saw him look like that in high school. That's what really intrigued me when I was recruiting him out of L.A. He's got some moxie to him and he obviously has a lot of courage to be stepping up in those situations."
Delon Wright added 14 points and six assists while Jeremy Olsen also chipped in 14 points for the Utes (12-2, 1-1 Pac-12) who won by a double-digit margin for the 11th time this season. Utah shot a blistering 58 percent (29 of 50) from the field and 54.5 percent (12 of 22) from distance.
The Utes also played unselfish basketball — generating 23 assists on 29 total baskets.
Nelson scored 16 points to lead the Beavers (8-6, 0-2 Pac-12) and Hallice Cooke added 14 off the bench. Oregon State shot 50 percent (25 of 50) from the field and 52.6 percent (10 of 19) from outside. But 15 Beaver turnovers led to 15 points for Utah.
"It made a difference because they had it going on," Taylor said. "For us to turn the ball over, it probably would have been a whole different story. For us to take care of the ball, it kind of limited them. They still hit shots, but it just felt good to take care of the ball and get good shots."
Oregon State refused to fold, even after Utah built up a 61-49 lead following a 3-pointer from Dakarai Tucker with 11:11 remaining. The Beavers gnawed away at the deficit and pulled to within three after Devin Collier made a backdoor layup and added a free throw to cap an 11-2 run. Collier's 3-point play whittled Utah's lead to 63-60 with 6:28 left.
Utah made just one field goal over a 5:20 stretch to let Oregon State back into the game. Taylor broke the ice with a pair of huge baskets. He made a jumper to beat the shot clock and followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession to give Utah more breathing room.
A dunk from Olsen with 4:18 left capped the mini-run and gave the Utes an insurmountable 70-60 lead.
"Right from the start, we looked like we weren't prepared to play," Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said.
No. 1 Arizona 71, Washington 62
At Tucson, Ariz., Nick Johnson scored 24 points and Aaron Gordon had 18 points and 11 rebounds for top-ranked Arizona.
The Wildcats (15-0, 2-0 Pacific-12) are off to their best start since 1931-32, when the team set a school record with 16 wins to open the season.
T.J. McConnell added six assists, five rebounds and four steals for Arizona.
C.J. Wilcox led Washington (9-6, 1-1) with 20 points while Perris Blackwell had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Arizona trailed by two points at halftime but pulled away as the Huskies shot 10 of 33 in the second half, missing all seven 3-point attempts.