SAN DIEGO — With the shot clock winding down midway through overtime and a defender hanging on him, San Diego State's Trey Kell took a pass from Dakarai Allen and put up a long 3-pointer.
It hit nothing but net, giving San Diego State a four-point lead over Fresno State and some breathing room. Kell finished with a career-high 27 points, leading the Aztecs to a 73-67 victory Tuesday night, the Aztecs' sixth straight victory to open Mountain West Conference play.
It was sweet redemption for Kell, who could have won it in the closing seconds of regulation but missed the second of two free throws and then watched as Cezar Guerrero hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"We didn't really execute that well on that play but we just had to get a shot up so I just threw it up there and it went in," said Kell, a sophomore who played at San Diego's St. Augustine High. "I'm not going to lie. When i shot it I thought it was going in."
Coach Steve Fisher said it was "good fortune for us on that play.
"He threw one up and it went in. We got lucky," Fisher said. "But I've seen him do that in practice. If there's one guy you'd want to throw it up and you'd say who would have the best chance to make one, it would probably be him. He shot it with decent form. But he shot it with a guy all over him from a long, long distance."
Kell "is an amazing player," Skylar Spencer said. "He can always have a big game like this."
The Aztecs scored their last eight points from the free throw line in the final 58.7 seconds.
San Diego State had been only 9 of 20 from the line in regulation but was 13 of 16 in overtime. Zylan Cheatham made 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute, Winston Shepard and Spencer each made two and Kell hit one.
Kell was at the line with 8.8 seconds left in regulation and the chance to give the Aztecs a four-point lead. He made the first free throw but missed the second. Fresno State's Karachi Edo rebounded and Guerrero hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 57 and send it into overtime.
SDSU (13-6) opened conference play 6-0 for the second time in three seasons. The Aztecs have won 10 of their last 11 games against Fresno State (12-7, 3-3).
The Aztecs held Marvelle Harris, the MWC's leading scorer at 22.6 points per game, to 12 points on 4-of-20 shooting. Edo led Fresno State with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Torren Jones had 13 and Paul Watson also had 12.
Kell's previous career-high was 19 at Colorado State last Wednesday night. He scored in double digits for the sixth straight game. Cheatham and Jeremy Hemsley had 11 apiece.
The Aztecs had a seven-point lead with just more than 5 ½ minutes left before the Bulldogs worked their way back into it, pulling to 53-51 on a jumper by Julien Lewis.
Kell then made a layup and was fouled, and made the free throw to make it 56-51. But Harris hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs to within two points with 1:05 left.
Spencer missed the front end of a one-and-one with 43.2 seconds but Cheatham got the rebound. Shepard put up a shot just before the clock went off. It hit the rim and he got the rebound. After a video review, the referees determined it wasn't a shot clock violation and the Aztecs had the ball with 11.7 seconds left.
"We knew that we were going to have to come in here and play for 40 minutes," Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said. "They played well. They're a hard team to play against at home, and on the road. Their defense stays at home, and travels. They're one of the better defensive teams in the country."
Fresno State: Harris had only four points in the first half.
San Diego State: The Aztecs were playing their third game in seven days — in three different states.
Fresno State visits Air Force on Saturday.
San Diego State hosts Utah State on Saturday.