Published January 08, 2015
San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - JJ O'Brien scored a game-high 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and No. 16 San Diego State held on for a 53-49 win over No. 25 Utah on Tuesday.
No player in the game made more than four shots and both teams shot worse than 33 percent from the floor in their first meeting since Utah moved from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 three years ago.
Angelo Chol and Dwayne Polee II had eight points apiece for the Aztecs (2-0), who opened the season with a 79-58 win over Cal State Northridge on Friday.
They have won six in a row against Utah.
Brandon Taylor scored nine points to lead Utah (1-1), which started the season ranked in the top-25 for the first time since 2000-01 and pulled away down the stretch to beat Ball State 90-72 on Friday.
But they struggled against San Diego State's defense, shooting just 32 percent from the field (the Aztecs shot 32.7 percent). Utah guard Delon Wright, an all-conference selection last season, missed his first nine shots and finished 2-for-13 for seven points.
"This is what we thought it would be like on the defensive end for both teams," said Aztecs coach Steve Fisher. "I think both of us are capable of making more shots. I know the defense had a lot to do with 32 percent (shooting) for both teams.
"If you're around long enough, you know that games have a feel about them and when you go to the NCAA Tournament, you have to be a team that grinds out a win and plays possession by possession. That's the feel this game had."
San Diego State never trailed after O'Brien's layup made it 19-18 in the first minute of the second half.
Wright's first bucket came with 83 seconds remaining when he scored after grabbing a rebound off a 3-point miss.
"They did a good job contesting and playing good defense," said Wright. "It was just a tough night for us."
Taylor and Jordan Loveridge hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for the Utes, trimming their deficit to 49-46 with 20 seconds left. But freshman Trey Kell knocked down two free throws at the other end for the Aztecs and Polee added two foul shots for the hosts after Wright made three for Utah.
San Diego State improved to 5-1 at home against top-25 teams since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Aztecs beat a school-record four top-25 teams last season ... The former conference rivals met for the 72nd time. Utah leads the series 53-19 ... San Diego State has won 16 consecutive home games, matching the fourth-longest streak in program history ... The Aztecs have won 12 straight non-conference games, the second-longest in school history ... San Diego State faces Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday and Utah faces UC Riverside on Friday.