SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Te’Jon Lucas scored a season-high 18 points to lead No. 18 BYU to a 75-64 win over Utah on Saturday night, keeping the Cougars undefeated.
Alex Barcello had 17 points, most of them coming late in the game as he controlled the ball and went 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Gavin Baxter scored a season-high 14 points and Caleb Lohner added 10 points and 12 rebounds for BYU (6-0).
Brendan Carlson had 17 points and Rollie Worster had 13 for the Utes (5-1), who suffered their first defeat of the season after five straight wins under new coach Craig Smith.
The Cougars outrebounded the Utes, who were third in the nation in rebound margin, 45-28 and had a 48-28 scoring advantage in the paint.
Still, the Utes were scrappy and stayed within striking distance until the final minutes, when their inability to grab a rebound clinched the game.
Down 40-39, the Cougars went on a 13-2 run that was punctuated with a dunk by Fousseyni Traore to make it 52-41 with 9:16 to play. Neither team had led by double digits to that point.
The Utes cut the lead to six several times but the Cougars always had an answer, shooting 56% from the field in the second half that included a number of layups and dunks.
Utah sprinted to a 7-0 lead in the first and led 29-27 at the half, led by Stefonovic’s eight points. Both teams played high-pressure, intense defense. Open shots were few and many attempts came late in the shot clock.
Early in the game, Ute senior big man Dusan Mahorcic left the game with an apparent knee injury, and that was after leading rebounder Marco Anthony was ruled out before tipoff with a sprained ankle.
Utah hadn’t lost to BYU on their home court since 2011.
BYU: The Cougars showed some nerves early in this rivalry game, but showed poise and composure down the stretch, grabbing big rebounds and converting their free throws. Their interior strength proved the key to thwarting Utah’s pressure defense.
Utah: In their toughest test yet, the Utes stayed with the Cougars for much of the game but missed Anthony and Mahoric on the boards. The Utes’ half-court motion offense wasn’t producing the open shots they’ve seen in early-season games.
BYU: Visits neighboring Utah Valley on Wednesday night.
Utah: Starts Pac-12 play at No. 24 USC on Wednesday night.