LAS VEGAS — In sizing up San Diego State, Utah coach Jim Boylen said there are a couple of concerns that pop out. Just a few basic things like getting good shots, rebounding and limiting turnovers.

"They are a spurt team," Boylen said. "They did it again to Colorado State on Saturday night. It was a close game at halftime then they made their 10- or 12-point spurt in the second half."

The key, he added, is to hold the Aztecs' runs to four and six points, not eight, 10 or 12.

"That's going to be very important," Boylen said as seventh-seeded Utah (13-17)) prepares to face second-seeded SDSU (27-2) Thursday in the Mountain West Conference Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"What we have to do is prepare well and keep in mind that we've done good things against San Diego State, learn from the mistakes we've made against them and play good basketball," he said. "Obviously, getting off to a good start is important. It's not the cure-all, but it certainly makes it easier."

In a 71-62 loss to SDSU in the Huntsman Center on Jan. 8, Boylen noted that the Utes didn't rebound the ball under the eight-minute mark.

A month later in San Diego, early turnovers proved costly as the Aztecs cruised to an 85-53 victory.

"They're a difficult team to play uphill against," Boylen said. "We have to try the best we can not to be in that situation."

Despite getting blown out in the most recent meeting with the Aztecs, the Utes aren't lacking in confidence.

"We still have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament. We still have a chance to win games," Boylen said. "Our team is excited and focused for that challenge."

Utes on the air

Utah (13-17, 6-10 MWC) vs. San Diego St. (27-2, 14-2)

Thursday, 7 p.m.

Thomas & Mack Center

TV: The mtn.

Radio: 700 AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com