SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — After weathering a late comeback by Wichita State, the Utah Utes recovered just in time to earn their biggest win in 15 years — against a team that’s not accustomed to losing.
Delon Wright hit a go-ahead jumper with 14 seconds left in overtime to boost No. 25 Utah over the eighth-ranked Shockers 69-68 on Wednesday night, snapping their regular-season winning streak at 35 games.
“This is huge for us and huge for our program. This is the type of game we have always lost in the past and this time we found a way to get it done,” Wright said.
The do-everything senior guard played all 45 minutes and scored five of his 13 points in the extra period as Utah (6-1) withstood a late Shockers rally and three missed free throws in the final 3.2 seconds.
Brandon Taylor had 17 points and Dakarai Tucker scored 13 for the Utes, who hadn’t hosted such a highly ranked team since toppling No. 1 Alabama 51-49 on Dec. 30, 1999.
“It’s a surreal feeling to see the way this program has turned around a complete 180,” Taylor said. “I was so hyped out there.”
Ron Baker scored 15 points, Tekele Cotton had 14 and Fred VanVleet added 13, but Wichita State (4-1) couldn’t overcome 38 percent shooting in its first regular-season defeat since a 90-81 loss at Creighton on March 10, 2013.
The Shockers went 31-0 last season and then won three games in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament before falling to Kentucky 78-76 in their second NCAA tournament game.
“It was just a gritty game with two teams going at it all night,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “They were just one point better.”
After failing to score in regulation, Evan Wessel had the first six points for the Shockers in overtime and Baker made an acrobatic layup to give Wichita State a 68-67 lead with 28 seconds remaining.
Wright, who also had seven assists and six rebounds, scored in the paint to put Utah back in front.
“I knew I had to make a play,” he said. “I looked for Brandon Taylor but he wasn’t open and I found a way to get into the lane and make a shot.”
Wright tried to draw a charge on the other end and fouled VanVleet, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Wessel missed a putback attempt before Wichita State sent Chris Reyes to the line with 3.2 seconds left.
Reyes missed but teammate Jakob Poeltl, who had 12 points and 11 boards, got the rebound and was fouled with 1.7 seconds to play. Poeltl missed both free throws, leaving Wichita State only 1.4 seconds to go the length of the court. Van Vleet’s desperation heave from halfcourt wasn’t close.
The Utes’ advantage grew as large as 57-46 with 5:17 remaining before the Shockers rallied. VanVleet hit two 3-pointers in the final 1:15 sandwiched around another 3 by Cotton, while Utah committed back-to-back turnovers.
VanVleet had missed his first seven attempts before making those two beyond the arc that gave the Shockers a 60-58 lead and completed a 14-1 run. Tucker hit two free throws to send the game into overtime.
“I just thought about fundamentals,” said Tucker, who missed Utah’s first four games with an injured rib.
Wichita State forced the skittish Utes into three turnovers and blocked a shot on their first four possessions in taking a 10-0 lead.
After tossing up the ball for the overtime tip-off, official David Hall was hit in the head by an inadvertent elbow from a player and had to be helped off the floor. The game finished with two referees.
After grinding through the first 40 minutes of a physical game, Wright was asked by Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak if he could keep going. “He played a lot of minutes with a lot of pressure, but that guy’s got a heart of gold. It was tough, but our guys just hung in there,” Krystkowiak said. After the game, Wright smiled and said: “Yeah, I’m tired, but I’m happy.”
Wichita State: The Shockers had won their last seven against ranked teams. … Wichita State’s 35 straight regular-season wins, including three this season over teams that were in the NCAA tournament last season, were the best in nation.
Utah: Jordan Loveridge, Utah’s third-leading scorer, sat out with an injured knee. He had surgery and will be out a month. … Utah had lost 13 straight to squads ranked in the top 10. … Two ranked teams hadn’t squared off in the Huntsman Center since Feb. 27, 1999, when No. 12 Utah beat No. 21 New Mexico 77-47. … The Utes are 7-1 against the Shockers.
Wichita State hosts Saint Louis on Saturday.
Utah visits Brigham Young next Wednesday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.