Trojans outpoised by Utah

first_imgAs Utah applied the finishing touches to an 80-69 victory over USC at the Galen Center on Sunday afternoon, a unique feeling likely kicked in for many Trojan fans.It was not the worst feeling in the world, but it was a distinct one. It was the unmistakable feeling of falling to a team that refused to lose its cool.Utah has incredible composure. The faithful at Galen may have gasped every time sophomore forward Jakob Poeltl effortlessly collected the ball and laid it in for two, but Utah’s win over the Trojans was much bigger than just a 7-foot Austrian playing center.The Utes’ ability to repeatedly quiet the Trojans obviously involved a number of factors, including strong defensive organization from the visitors as well as an uncharacteristically lackluster performance from the Trojans. However, Utah’s discipline with the ball was truly something.Underrated players are everywhere. With star players garnering loads of attention, many talented youngsters slip through the cracks in terms of receiving national media attention. If you watch even five minutes of a national television broadcast on college hoops, you will almost certainly hear the name Buddy Hield. Likewise, even if watching these 20-year-old student-athletes is your form of religion, you have probably had never heard of Brandon Taylor or Lorenzo Bonam before Sunday.This guard duo dashed any hopes of a USC victory, particularly down the final stretch of the game. Taylor and Bonam did their part defensively, but with the ball in their hands, they showed excellent vision and poise.Taylor served up 10 assists in the win, consistently finding the open man with his head on a swivel. Taylor, a senior with the Utes who hails from Los Angeles, has continued to develop his game even though Delon Wright, Taylor’s former backcourt mate, is now playing for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA. When Taylor and Wright played together — which they did for two seasons — the rangy Wright ran the point. However, Taylor inherited that role this season, and he has really evolved as the campaign has progressed. His game is well-rounded, and he takes care of the basketball.Utah was a Sweet 16 team last year, and if Larry Krystkowiak’s team had not run into Duke at that point, their tourney run could very well have been longer.Against USC, that invaluable experience showed. Utah looked like a team that had been there before. They looked smooth. They looked unfazed. They also looked like an unselfish bunch.One of the most adept passers on the floor was Bonam. A transfer from Gillette College in Wyoming, Bonam has excelled in his first season in Salt Lake City. Bonam finished the contest with just 9 points, but he impacted the game in some way during each of his 33 minutes on the floor.Utah is a fundamentally sound team. The Utes are a well-oiled machine and could be a tough matchup come March should they continue to play like this. While they may not be the trendiest pick in either the Pac-12 Tournament or the NCAA Tournament, the Utes are quietly chugging right along on a four-game winning streak at the moment.Elite guard play helped the Utes take care of USC on Sunday, and it could also catapult this team back into the Sweet 16. After all, that is the very reason Kentucky is still a legitimate candidate to return to the Final Four this season.Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs every other Tuesday.last_img

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