Throughout this season, two questions have lingered as we approach March.
Who can put this team on their back offensively?
Can Leon Rice find some dependable depth?
In front of a vibrant 9,825 fans at The X, we saw what this team can do when both questions are emphatically answered.
It’s pretty damn good.
Key Teams Stats of the Night
Field Goal Percentage
Boise State - 40.0%
New Mexico - 37.7%
Boise State - 25.9%
New Mexico - 32.0%
Boise State - 8
New Mexico - 10
Max Rice (BSU) - 30 points *Career-high
Morris Udeze (UNM) - 18 points
Tyson Degenhart, Chibuzo Agbo and Max Rice (BSU) - 7 rebounds
Morris Udeze (UNM) - 14 rebounds
Naje Smith and Max Rice (BSU) - 2 assists
Jaelen House (UNM) - 6 assists
Story of the Game
Before the game even began, there was a noticeable presence to the left of the visiting bench prior to tipoff. Members of the Boise State football team had a roped-off section near the Lobo bench, but according to local media, this was not in any way retaliation for the New Mexico baseball scuttle in January.
When the football team is in attendance, you know it’s a big game.
Both teams got off to a reasonable start from the field as Boise State nailed multiple triples while Jamal Mashburn Jr. made two shots to keep the Broncos honest.
Who would have known that those two field goals would be the only ones that Mashburn would convert for the rest of the game? Not me.
After a few mini-runs from each program, the Lobos went on a massive 22-4 run over the course of seven minutes to create a 13-point lead with less than three minutes until halftime. Alas, Boise State managed to respond via a 7-0 run of their own that was capped off by a Chibuzo Agbo three-pointer. Despite New Mexico controlling the first half, the Broncos found themselves only down six at the break.
Despite a poor shooting effort from outside in the first half, Tyson Degenhart found a way to impact the game in other ways. His defense was crucial in keeping Morris Udeze somewhat in check and his passing ability from the post allowed Max Rice to get hot in the second half. Along with Rice’s torrid shooting effort, bench pieces Lukas Milner and Jace Whiting had an important part in pushing Boise State to the finish line. Milner provided immense energy on the defensive glass and Whiting was playing with visible confidence when he had the ball in his hands.
A back-and-forth affair reached its climax with four minutes left when Rice hit back-to-back threes that quadrupled Boise State’s lead from two to eight. The game remained in the high single-digits as the clock diminished to less than a minute, but an uncharacteristic slump at the charity stripe by Marcus Shaver Jr. allowed New Mexico to cut the lead from eight to five on a meaningless Donovan Dent three with two seconds left.
A win nonetheless.
(Except if you had Boise State covering at -5.5/-6).
Keep an eye on Scott Van Pelt’s SportsCenter early next week and his “Bad Beats” segment...
BOISE STATE BRONCOS (22-6, 12-3) 82
NEW MEXICO LOBOS (20-8, 7-8) 77
BOISE STATE (22-6, 12-3) AT SAN JOSE STATE (16-12, 7-8)
Location: San Jose, California (Provident Credit Union Event Center)
Date/Time: Friday, February 25th at 5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Traditional Television: NBC Sports Bay Area (Local feed only, not national)
Streaming: Mountain West Network
Radio: KBOI 670 AM
Head-to-Head: Boise State is an incredible 38-3 against the Spartans. The Broncos have won 11 in a row and narrowly escaped their first meeting in Boise, 67-64. All three of San Jose State’s wins have come at home (2002, 2010 and 2016).
Keys to Watch
1. Can Boise State inject its own energy into the arena?
- Similar to Air Force’s Clune Arena, the home of San Jose State is not known for its packed house and raucous fans. Don’t get me wrong, there are Spartan superfans such as “SJSU Duck” that make the fanbase unique, but the Broncos need to be their own source of motivation.
2. Can Boise State limit Spartan Omari Moore’s influence?
- In their first meeting, the Broncos led by 12 at half and nearly blew the game wide open during the second half, but Moore carried their offense back from the dead and nearly stamped a resume-crusher for Leon Rice. Boise State had a tremendous day limiting Lobos Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House. We will see if that translates to the Bay Area.
3. Are Lukas Milner and Jace Whiting the answer to the bench dilemma?
- Not only are these two positively impacting the game when they are on the floor, but they are now doing so consistently. It was apparent that Pavle Kuzmanovic struggled on the defensive end last game and, for what reason I do not know, Sadraque NgaNga has hardly played since December 18th when Boise State faced Oakland. The other cog in the bench rotation is Kobe Young, and it seems that he has little opportunity to utilize his out-of-the-gym athleticism.
Stat Leaders (Averages)
Boise State: Forward Tyson Degenhart - 14.4 Pts.
San Jose State: Guard Omari Moore - 16.9 Pts.
Boise State: Guard Marcus Shaver Jr. - 6.0 Reb.
San Jose State: Forward Sage Tolbert III - 7.3 Reb.
Boise State: Guard Marcus Shaver Jr. - 3.8 Ast.
San Jose State: Guard Omari Moore - 4.8 Ast.
Via our friends at DraftKings, Boise State is currently a 3.5-point favorite and the total is set at 132.5.
Boise State 70 - San Jose State 65
What are your thoughts on the Broncos’ performance against New Mexico?
Leave your comments down below.