That is what college basketball is all about.
On senior night.
After a troublesome loss.
On the bubble.
The coach’s son, Max Rice, a local kid out of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, engineers a late 14-0 run that stamps the Broncos as a bona fide NCAA tournament team.
Key Teams Stats of the Night
Boise State - 35
San Diego State - 24
Field Goal Percentage
Boise State - 44.2%
San Diego State - 43.1%
Boise State - 40.9%
San Diego State - 36.8%
Max Rice (BSU) - 26 points
Matt Bradley (SDSU) - 16 points
Marcus Shaver Jr. (BSU) - 7 rebounds
Matt Bradley (SDSU) - 6 rebounds
Jace Whiting (BSU) - 3 assists
Nathan Mensah and Darrion Trammell (SDSU) - 2 assists
Story of the Game
Even before tipoff, the energy at The X was palpable with over 12,000 fans in attendance. Max Rice, Marcus Shaver Jr., Naje Smith and Lukas Milner were honored during the senior night festivities.
The first half was neck and neck throughout as Aztec bench pieces Micah Parrish and Jaedon LeDee hit critical shots in the first 20 minutes. Broncos Tyson Degenhart and Max Rice were the main contributors during the first act, accounting for 19 of Boise State’s 27 first half points. Both teams controlled the momentum of the game for brief stints, but at intermission, San Diego State held a mere three-point lead.
Out of the break, conference star Matt Bradley took matters into his own hands, scoring seven points in the first seven minutes to extend the Aztec lead to eight. However, just as quick the lead was created, the Broncos broke it down and stole momentum via a Naje Smith triple.
Another head of steam by Brian Dutcher’s team, this time a 10-4 run, put San Diego State up eight once again with 4:42 left in the ballgame.
The Broncos were on their last legs. (Imagine Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky running through your head)
A made free throw by Rice was followed by a miss. Degenhart forced his way into the lane, popping the ball into the air. Naje Smith corralled it and immediately found Rice open on the wing. Without hesitation, Rice let it fly.
Nothing but nylon.
With 4:39 to go, Broncos 56 - Aztecs 60.
After forcing a backcourt violation on a trap, Boise State had a chaotic offensive possession that ended in a Rice airball.
But as the Aztecs pushed it up the floor, Rice got a hand on the ball, allowing Marcus Shaver Jr. to gain control. Again, Rice was open on the wing and as an Aztec closed out, Rice sent it.
The bank was open.
Broncos 59 - Aztecs 60
A defensive stand gave Rice the chance to run up the court and receive a pass on the opposite wing.
Perhaps the slowest version of a step-back I have ever seen resulted in two Aztecs resting on the hardwood.
Rice was as open as a church on Sunday.
Did he miss?
Not even a chance.
2:42 on the clock.
Broncos 62 - Aztecs 60
Is Rice a defensive liability?
Max put a pin in that as he stole a pass on the ensuing possession and took it all the way to the rack and laid it in.
The Broncos were up four.
CBS Sports play-by-play man Rich Waltz’s voice couldn’t get any higher.
After all the flashiness on offense, Boise State needed to lock down on defense and the glass.
The grittiness of the Broncos showed as they collected two offensive rebounds that extended a vital possession.
One that started at the 1:50 mark and drained away 1:10. That’s winning basketball.
A Darrion Trammell miss gave the Broncos the opportunity to ice the game at the line and Marcus Shaver did just that.
One last miss and Boise State dribbled out the clock to the tune of 12,000 screaming Bronco fans.
That’s March basketball.
BOISE STATE BRONCOS (23-7, 13-4) 66
SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (23-6, 14-3) 60
BOISE STATE (23-7, 13-4) AT UTAH STATE AGGIES (23-7, 12-5)
Location: Logan, Utah (Dee Glen Smith Spectrum)
Date/Time: Saturday, March 4th at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Traditional Television: None
Streaming: Mountain West Network
Radio: KBOI 670 AM
Head-to-Head: Boise State is 21-34 all-time against the Aggies. Since the start of the decade, the Broncos are 6-1 with their only loss coming in Logan back in 2020. In this year’s first meeting, Boise State handled Utah State in a 23-point win that involved more than some friendly fire.
Keys to Watch
1. How do the Broncos maintain their focus after such a euphoric win Tuesday night?
- After the doubters crawled out of the woodwork in response to the loss at San Jose, Boise State stepped back into the ring and went full Rocky Balboa at the end against the Aztecs. That type of momentous energy can be difficult to carry over into the next game, but with the anticipated animosity that will hit the Broncos Saturday night, you would have to think that they will come out swinging (figuratively, of course).
2. Has Utah State found their offensive rhythm?
- I know it’s only one game, but the Aggies shot a tremendous 61.8% from the floor and a scorching 47.6% from downtown at UNLV. The 25-point win catapulted Utah State ahead of Boise State in the NET rankings and in KenPom’s ratings. It is vital for Boise State to limit the Aggies from outside and keep the crowd influence to a minimum.
3. How far can Max Rice take the Broncos?
- All throughout Rice’s career, others have been in the spotlight (Emmanuel Akot, Derrick Alston Jr., Abu Kigab, Justinian Jessup). Even this year, it was thought that Marcus Shaver Jr., Tyson Degenhart and Chibuzo Agbo would be the reliable scorers on this team. Head coach Leon Rice touched on it in his postgame presser, but Max has been doubted time and time again. Yet, when the team is at its lowest, he is the one who shines the brightest. His maturation during his time as a Bronco cannot be understated, but what is the limit to his impact? When he went on an individual 12-0 run to defeat the 18th ranked team in the nation on senior night and, essentially, secure Boise State an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament, it felt different.
And to think we may get one more year of the Max Rice experience...
Stat Leaders (Averages)
Boise State: Guard Max Rice - 14.4 Pts.
Utah State: Guard Steven Ashworth - 16.2 Pts.
Boise State: Guard Marcus Shaver Jr. - 5.9 Reb.
Utah State: Forward Dan Akin - 7.0 Reb.
Boise State: Guard Marcus Shaver Jr. - 3.7 Ast.
Utah State: Guard Steven Ashworth - 4.6 Ast.
Via our friends at DraftKings, Utah State is currently a 4.5-point favorite and the total is set at 143.5.
Boise State 69 - Utah State 71
What are your thoughts on the Broncos’ performance against San Diego State?
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