James Webb III led the Broncos with 19 points and nine rebounds as Boise State (16-7, 7-3) came from behind to beat Utah State (11-10, 3-7) in a dramatic 70-67 finish Tuesday night.
Lonnie Jackson had the shot of the night, hitting a go-ahead triple with 1:31 left for Boise's first lead of the game. Jackson missed his previous six attempts, but was able to connect when it mattered most. Utah State led the first 38:29 of the game until Jackson's clutch basket, and the Broncos made sure not to hand the lead back to the pesky Aggies in the final seconds.
Mikey Thompson had 16 points and Anthony Drmic added 12 for the Broncos. Utah State's Chris Smith, who hit four of his five three point attempts, finished the night with 20 points.
It was a struggle all night for the Broncos. Still trying to shake consecutive losses for the first time since November, Boise State started the game extremely sluggish on defense, allowing the Aggies to score 22 points before the 10-minute mark in the first half. Boise State trailed by as many as 13 before closing within 10 to end the first period. BSU also endured a quiet night from beyond the arc, shooting only 5-23 (21.7%) from 3, the second-worst three point shooting performance since going 1-17 against San Diego State.
But it was the tale of two halves again for Boise State, who are becoming all too familiar with the story. BSU entered the game with a first half +/- of +88 and a second half +/- of -1, but the script was flipped Tuesday night.
Boise State challenged the Utah State backcourt the remainder of the game using a stingy press, which led to a number of Aggie turnovers and easy fast-break scores. Coach Leon Rice even utilized a matchup zone on a couple possessions, trying to shake Utah State from the rhythm that helped build a sizeable first half lead.
The Boise State defense completely changed the outcome of the game. BSU outscored Utah State 42-29 in the final 20 minutes, forcing nine turnovers and making the Aggies look uncomfortable on a number of halfcourt sets.
Tonight was the perfect microcosm of Boise State's season. The Broncos were unable to string together 40 minutes of fluid basketball, but had just enough in the tank to scratch out the win. BSU once again walked the three-point tightrope, going ice-cold from behind the line until hitting the biggest basket of the night. The Broncos continue to have trust in the 3 ball, and will take the open shot regardless of what the percentages say.
Utah State had a chance late in the game but they blew this wide open layup.
Next up for Boise State is a matchup with Air Force at Colorado Springs.
Utah State heads to Laremie to face the Wyoming Cowboys.