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San Diego State's head coach Steve Fisher calls out to his team during an NCAA college basketball game against Washington on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in San Diego. The Aztecs will host the Runnin' Utes on Nov. 18, 2014 for ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. (AP Photo/Don Boomer)
Utah basketball: Utes to play SDSU on ESPN on Nov. 18
First Published Aug 04 2014 12:58 pm • Last Updated Aug 22 2014 12:16 pm

The Runnin’ Utes should have the last piece in place for their tough non-conference schedule this year, and their latest ranked opponent shouldn’t make it any easier.

Utah men’s basketball will take on San Diego State at Viejas Arena on Nov. 18 with a 1 p.m. tip as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Not only do the Utes face a team that is ranked No. 20 in ESPN’s preseason poll, but they also head into one of the nation’s most hostile environments, featuring the student section "The Show."

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How’s that for boosting strength of schedule?

After a season that saw the team playing one of the nation’s weakest slates — CBS Sports rated the Utes’ non-conference schedule at No. 341 last year — coach Larry Krystkowiak has made a point of getting bigger, badder opponents. Utah’s non-conference foes this season include Kansas, Wichita State, UNLV and, of course, BYU.

San Diego State loses some key pieces from last season, including guard Xavier Thames. But Utah will get a chance to face former Ute J.J. O’Brien, who played in Salt Lake City as a freshman in the 2010-11 season under Jim Boylen.

The game should give the Utah some of its biggest exposure of the season, televised on ESPN. The Tribune learned the game was tentatively scheduled this fall in July. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that SDSU coach Steve Fisher held out for a friendlier tip-off time, with the game originally being scheduled for a noon MT start.

The Aztecs are an old Mountain West foe, and Utah leads the series 53-18. Still, Utah has lost five straight games dating back to 2006.


Twitter: @kylegoon

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