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Boise State men's baskeball still poised for a banner year

Recent victories since the UNC game reveals the Broncos are making steady improvement

Nov 28, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Boise State Broncos guard Derrick Marks (2) drives to the basket as North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Caleb Martin (14) defends during the second half at PNC Arena. The Wolfpack won 60-54
Nov 28, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Boise State Broncos guard Derrick Marks (2) drives to the basket as North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Caleb Martin (14) defends during the second half at PNC Arena. The Wolfpack won 60-54
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

If Wednesday last night's hoops action in Taco Bell arena is any indication of success, the Boise State Broncos (7-2) are set to have a great year in the Mountain West Conference. They routed Northwest Nazarene, 91-55, and they did it without leader guard Anthony Drmic, 6-6, 192 lbs, who was out with a back injury. Led by guard Derrick Marks, 6-3, 210 lbs, and forward James Webb III, 6-9, 198 lbs, the Broncos won a decisive victory over the Division II team. Marks now leads the team in points per game with 15.4 on average. In the Wednesday night match up he scored 19. Webb III also had a great night out. He scored a career-high 18 points and had 11 rebounds.

The recent victories since the NC State game reveal the Broncos are making steady improvement in both scoring and on defense.  As they should.  Mountain West preseason polls had both the Boise State men and women's basketball teams picked to finish second in the conference this year. Both are still on track, with the Broncos men team third in the conference standings, behind Colorado State (9-0) and Wyoming (8-2).

This time last year the Broncos were 8-1 and finished the year with a 21-13 record. That finish was not good enough. This year head coach Leon Rice is optimistic his team can make another appearance in the NCAA Tournament and maybe even garner a trip to the Big Dance. That's because both Drmic and Marks, two the team's biggest playmakers, are getting back into lineup.  Last season they spent much of their time on the bench due to injuries. Junior guard Mikey Thompson, 6-4, 178 lbs, and Aussie forward Nick Duncan, 6-8, 248 lbs, have also been making a significant difference this season. Duncan is second in the conference in shooting 3-pointers.

The Broncos lead the conference in scoring. They have been outscoring their opponents 75-66 on average so far. That's the good news. The bad news is they are near the bottom of the conference in defense. That needs to improve if the Broncos want to achieve their tournament goals this season.

In sizing up the nine games they have played this season, their two losses have been away games at #3 Wisconsin (78-54) and at North Carolina State (60-54).  But they handled Saint Mary's (6-1) well, giving the Gaels their only loss this year by a score of 82-71.  Saint Mary's is a team the Broncos lost to last season by a score of 82-74. Two games still remain on the schedule against Southern Utah and Abeline Christian before the Broncos play Houston in the Las Vegas Classic on December 22. Mountain West conference action begins on December 31 when the Broncos travel to Fort Collins to take on the Colorado State Rams.

Next up for the Broncos: the Southern Utah Thunderbirds (2-4), Sunday, December 14, 4:30 PM MT, in Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho.