A road game against the nation’s seventh-ranked San Diego Aztecs was never going to be an easy task for the Boise State Broncos men’s team.
The Broncos learned just how difficult it would be early Saturday night in San Diego.
The Aztecs raced out to an 8-0 lead, led by 23 at halftime and, despite a much better second half from Boise State, defeated the Broncos 83-65.
Boise State (11-7, 3-3) struggled from deep all night, hitting only 1-9 from three-point range in the first half. A couple of three’s in the final minutes pushed the Broncos to a final mark of 6-20 (30 percent).
RJ Williams had another outstanding effort, leading the Broncos with 16 points and 9 rebounds off of the bench.
Freshman guard Ray J Dennis, in the starting lineup once again, had a nice second half with eight points, including a couple of threes. Dennis finished with 10 points, the only other Bronco to crack double figures.
The Broncos did end up shooting 56.5 percent from the floor in the second half, but also had 18 turnovers on the game.
KJ Feagin led the first-place Aztecs (17-0, 6-0) with 23 points, knocking down five of his seven 3-point attempts. Yanni Wetezel added 20 on 9-12 shooting and Malachi Flynn had 19 points and 6 assists.
The Aztecs started the game locked and loaded, hitting 7-11 with three 3’s to get things going. When they weren’t knocking down threes, the Aztecs were getting easy and uncontested looks inside.
After falling behind 8-0, Justinian Jessup finally got the Broncos going with a three. It would be his only made three of the night, connecting on 1-7. Jessup ended 2-12 from the field with a total of seven points.
A Robin Jorch basket brought the Broncos within six, at 13-7, but a 12-4 run by San Diego State put the Aztecs up 25-11.
Boise State was able to get it back within eight at 27-19 on a Williams dunk off of a nice pass by Jessup.
Feagin’s 16 first-half points proved to be too much and the Aztecs finished the first half shooting 57.6 percent from the field. They made eight 3’s and held a 48-25 halftime lead.
A much better performance from the Boise State Broncos in the second half is something to build on. Even so, the Boise State Broncos never really threatened, getting no closer than 16 points.
The Aztecs cooled off as well, but only down to 46.2 percent for the half. Perimeter defense by Boise State improved, but the Aztecs still got too many easy buckets.
Any time the Broncos built up some momentum, like a 6-0 run early in the second half, the Aztecs would turned around with a mini-run of their own. A nearly four-minute stretch saw the Aztecs go scoreless, but Boise State only managed six points of their own during this stretch.
Dennis had both of his threes in the second half. Redshirt freshman Max Rice also had a couple of threes, finishing with eight points. His second three made it 74-58 with just over four minutes left but that’s as close as Boise State would get.
Derrick Alston Jr. finished with nine points as the Aztecs limited his opportunities all evening.
Jessup led the team with four assists.
Boise State will be back in action on Wednesday with a road game at Air Force. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm (MT).