San Diego State (14-5, 3-2 MWC) did just enough to hold off a furious Utah comeback, as Carlon Brown's desperation heave bounced harmlessly off the back iron at the buzzer giving the Aztecs the 70-68 victory. Utah now stands at 9-9, 2-2 in MWC play.
Malcolm Thomas led all players with 23 points and 13 rebounds in a game that should not have been as close as it was. The Utes shot themselves into a hole in the first half, hitting just 23.3% from the field in the opening 20 minutes. As bad as the Utes were from the field, the Aztecs matched them at the free throw line, making just 10 of 23 from the line overall, and their 5-of-13 effort in the second half kept the Utes within striking distance.
Brown scored 18 points to lead the Utes while Luka Drca scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half. David Foster chipped in with six points, nine rebounds, and five blocks, with all of his points and blocks coming in the second half.
Utah refused to quit despite falling behind by 12 points with 15:53 left in the ballgame. A Drca three from the right wing capped a 10-0 run that pulled the Utes within two, but the Aztecs had an answer for every Utah rally. Key turnovers or offensive rebounds kept the Utes at arms length for the final ten minutes.
Poor shooting was not the only contributing factor for the Utes. Foul trouble limited Foster to just seven minutes in the first half. Without the presence of Foster, the Aztecs took advantage by scoring 24 of their 37 points in the paint. San Diego State scored just 12 points in the paint in the second half.
Marshall Henderson added 14 points and four rebounds, while Jay Watkins contributed 12 points and four rebounds off the bench.
The Utes finally found the range in the second half, shooting 50% from the field while holding the Aztecs to 40.6%.
The Utes wore patches on their jerseys to honor Watkins' stepfather. The patches have John Smith's initials and #24, the number he wore while playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.
San Diego State's 14-5 record matches the program's best 19-game start in the past 25 years.