No. 16 Utah holds off San Diego State 81-76
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Jordan Loveridge is off to a breakout start this season, and this time it was San Diego State with a firsthand look.
Loveridge scored 21 points and hit four 3-pointers to lead No. 16 Utah to an 81-76 victory Monday night.
The victory ended Utah's six-game losing streak to the Aztecs.
The Utes (2-0) were undersized against a long, athletic San Diego State team and managed just 20 points in the paint - but Loveridge and his teammates picked up the slack from outside. He's averaged 22.5 points in two games after averaging 10 in 28 games last season.
''This is my fourth year,'' Loveridge said. ''You just get confidence each year. You know how the game goes, especially in big games like this. You get to be in these big games and you know how important each possession on offense and defense are.''
Jakob Poeltl had 15 points, 12 rebounds and one block for the Utes. Kyle Kuzma added 14 points and seven rebounds even though he was in foul trouble most of the second half.
Winston Shepard led San Diego State (1-1) with 19 points, and Dakarai Allen chipped in 15. Zylan Cheatham, Trey Kell and Shepard each had a team-high seven rebounds.
Utah pulled away with a 14-7 run late in the second half thanks to baskets from Loveridge, Lorenzo Bonam and Brekott Chapman.
The Utes used a 17-5 run to close the first half and take a 38-32 lead into halftime after trailing much of the first 20 minutes. San Diego State took a 27-21 lead with a 17-9 stretch before Utah went on its run.
Utah settled for perimeter shots in the first half against the Aztecs, with 15 of its 31 attempts coming from behind the arc. Only five of those went in, but seven offensive rebounds gave the Utes extra opportunities.
''I'm bitterly disappointed,'' San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. ''We could have won the game and we did too many things you can't do if you want to win the game. It starts with the last part of the first half when they went on a 14-2 run.
''We took too many hard shots in the first half. We're not a selfish team, but they did some things you can't do. ... And we paid the piper.''
San Diego State: The Aztecs were 6-6 against ranked teams since the beginning of the 2013-14 season. ... San Diego State was No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (53.9 points) last season. The Aztecs have allowed an average of 70.5 points in two games this season. ... Malik Pope was held to three first-half points and finished with four. ... SDSU had just six assists on 26 baskets. ... Freshman Jeremy Hemsley scored seven points on 3-for-9 shooting.
Utah: The bench was held to seven points - all from Chapman. ... Isaiah Wright was held scoreless for a second consecutive game and is 0 for 9 from the field. ... All five starters scored in double figures.
The Utes got just one point from a true guard in the season opener. Guard/forward Dakarai Tucker added five. The other 76 points came from forwards and centers. The gulf wasn't as drastic Monday, as Brandon Taylor and Bonam combined for 24 points.
Taylor is the leading returning scorer for the Utes, but was ice cold in the first game. He went 0 for 9 in the opener and was 0 for 3 Monday until hitting an off-balance 3 as time expired in the first half. Taylor finished 3 for 9 with 10 points. ''Forget Brandon,'' Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. ''That was a big boost for us coming into halftime. (He's) getting a little bit of swagger back and feeling good about shooting the ball.''
''The team needs me to be aggressive,'' Shepard said. ''The team needs me to make plays. So I have to do that. I played three horrible halves to start the season. I can't do that.''
Utah plays Texas Tech in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic on Thursday.
San Diego State hosts San Diego Christian on Wednesday.