Dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
That was the theme of last week’s games against Fresno State and Utah State.
In Fresno, the Broncos were up by as much as 16 with less than ten minutes to go.
Fast-forward to the 2:10 mark and you would see that the game had flipped on its head. Leon Rice’s crew was able to avert disaster thanks to a Chibuzo Agbo triple, but all the work that had been put into stockpiling resume-building wins was nearly set ablaze.
A win is a win when you travel in the Mountain West, but playing prevent offense will find a way to nip this team at the worst time.
With a sold-out crowd at ExtraMile Arena, the Broncos welcomed Utah State to the Treasure Valley Saturday. This was considered a toss-up game prior to tipoff, but it had much more meaning for those in blue and orange. Neither team was able to create a sizable lead and with one minute to go, it appeared that it would come down to the wire.
However, Utah State head coach Danny Sprinkle committed a mistake that tends to cost teams a vast majority of the time. After an offensive possession where there may have been some legit contact, Sprinkle went on a brief tirade toward the sideline official. Now, in most games and with more veteran officiating crews, referees wouldn’t bat an eye because they know that the game should be decided on the floor and not with the whistle. But, this was an inexperienced crew and, controversially, they called a technical on Sprinkle.
This sequence gave the Broncos a three-point lead, but the door was still open.
A made bucket by Aggie Josh Uduje closed the gap to one.
Free throw time.
O’Mar Stanley caught the ball in the corner and was immediately fouled.
First free throw...good.
Second attempt...no sir.
With seven seconds, Ian Martinez was able to fly past the defense and get to the cup, tying the game.
In the postgame presser, Bronco head coach Leon Rice mentioned how Roddie Anderson III overcommitted on the free throw, vacating space and putting him behind the eight ball in transition.
I would also say that Stanley was on Martinez’ hip, but he had four fouls at the time and looked unwilling to commit his fifth if the game was to head into overtime.
In OT, Utah State jumped all over the Broncos and didn’t let them breathe. Boise State was unable to score until the 1:35 point and despite the late-game heroics by Tyson Degenhart, it was too little too late.
A quad one opportunity wasted at home.
“Not great, Bob!” - Mad Men
What Lies Ahead
Tonight, January 31st, is not going to be fun.
Boise State travels to The Pit to take on a New Mexico team that is on an absolute tangent right now.
At home, the Lobos are undefeated and in their last three home games, this is how they have fared.
Beat San Diego State by 18.
Beat Utah State by 13.
Beat Nevada by 34.
How many points did Richard Pitino’s squad score in those contests?
88, 99, and 89.
All of these games ended in regulation.
Boise State has a stout defense, don’t get me wrong. But, New Mexico is lethal this year with their trio of guards in Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr., and Donovan Dent. Add to that freshman JT Toppin and Iona transfer Nelly Junior Joseph and I have a very bad feeling about tonight’s conference bout.
The Broncos cannot have this game turn into a track race. If that happens, warm up the busses because it will be lights out for them.
After tonight, they get a brief break via a home date with Air Force before heading out next week to both Fort Collins and Logan.
In these next three away games, if the Broncos can steal one, that would maintain their position in most bracket projections.
Nab two wins or more and I would be very comfortable saying the Broncos are a near shoe-in for the Big Dance barring any losses to the bottom four.
Can a big stretch for Leon Rice start off with a win tonight?
I doubt it, but boy would it be a massive win after last Saturday’s deflating loss.