Utah's late rally fell short as No. 16 San Diego State beat the No. 25 Utes 53-49 in a Tuesday matinee between cold-shooting teams. The final couple of minutes were exciting, though, as Utah scratched and clawed, fouled and shot three-pointers.
Utah pulled within three on a layup by Delon Wright and 3-pointers by Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge. Aqeel Quinn made one free throw for SDSU in that span. The teams combined for 18 points in the final 46.8 seconds.
Former Utes forward JJ O'Brien had a strong second half for the Aztecs and finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. O'Brien was held to just 3-for-10 shooting (0-for-1 from behind the arc), but he was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line, most of those coming in the final minutes. O'Brien, who played for Utah as a freshman, had no points and three rebounds in the first half, and SDSU trailed 18-17 at the break.
The Aztecs looked like a different team in the second half, starting when O'Brien grabbed a rebound and then made a reverse layup 40 seconds in. SDSU forward Angelo Chol, a transfer from Arizona, scored six points during a 9-0 run that put SDSU (2-0) ahead for good.
SDSU freshman point guard Trey Kell then made two free throws with 16.8 seconds left to make it 51-46. It was Taylor's fifth foul that sent the point guard to the line.
Wright pump-faked Skylar Spencer from behind the 3-point line and drew a foul with 10 seconds left. He made all three free throws to pull the Utes to 51-49.
Dwayne Polee II made two free throws with 9.5 seconds left for SDSU.
SDSU won its sixth straight game against former conference rival Utah (1-1). The teams hadn't met since 2011.
Both teams were brutally cold from the floor in the first half. SDSU shot just 27.3 percent and Utah 22.7 percent. Utah finished the game shooting 32 percent, and SDSU increased their percentage to 32.7.
Taylor had nine points to lead Utah (1-1). No Utes player scored in double figures, and D. Wright struggled until the final few minutes, shooting just 2-of-13 from the field, 0-of-5 from deep. Freshman center Jakob Poeltl recorded four points, 12 rebounds, and blocked 7 shots against the Top 20 Aztecs.
With the score tied at 24 with 13 1/2 minutes to play, Chol, a transfer from Arizona, made consecutive buckets to start the key 9-0 run. He also made a jump hook in the run, which O'Brien capped with a jumper at 8:12.
While SDSU was on its run, the Utes went more than 6 1/2 minutes between baskets. By the time Chris Reyes snapped the drought with a shot off a rebound, the Utes were down 33-26, and their late rally ran out of time.