Thanks to a couple of early December conference games, the Boise State Broncos men’s basketball team is already three games into Mountain West Conference play.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the team is beginning to become a cohesive unit. Sure, they still have their stretches in games where they can’t buy a bucket and can sometimes have lapses on defense. But overall, the Broncos (10-5, 2-1) have found ways to win.
Here’s hoping that continues Saturday when they hit the road to take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (9-5, 2-0).
Winning has taken shape thanks to a senior class leading by example, but it is the play of juniors Derrick Alston, Jr and Abu Kigab that has grabbed the recent headlines.
Despite an off game in Wednesday’s victory over Wyoming, Alston is leading Boise State at 20.3 ppg. Eight times Alston has scored 20 or more points this season, twice even going over 30. The most recent was a 32-point performance against Portland, a game in which he also dished out six assists.
Kigab, a transfer from Oregon, has made an immediate impact. He’s played five games so far for the Broncos, averaging 15.8 ppg. He already has two double-doubles, including a 33-point, 11-rebound performance against Cal State Northridge.
Of course, senior Justinian Jessup is delivering in his usual way. Jessup is averaging 15.5 points per game and has put up 20 or more in all three Mountain West contests. He’s also shooting 40 percent from three-point range, making 46 on the season. This puts Jessup at 273 for his career, two short of tying Anthony Drmic for the school record.
The Mountain West career record is 296, set by former BYU standout Jimmer Fredette between 2008-11.
Jessup is just one of many seniors delivering on both ends of the court.
Boise State Broncos: The seniors
Part of the Broncos recent success is a move made by head coach Leon Rice once Kagib was eligible to play. Rice inserted the transfer into the starting lineup, pushing Alex Hobbs to the bench.
Initially, I though the move by Rice was a curious one. Hobbs has been a consistent starter the past couple of seasons and wasn’t playing bad. But, the move has worked out so far. It provides depth off the bench and gives the unit a scoring punch that was missing in the season’s first ten games. Hobbs is still playing plenty of minutes — as he should — and blends seamlessly with both starters and bench players.
Twice already this season Hobbs has had 7 assists in a game. The Broncos have been adept at racking up assists in 2019-20, averaging 13.5 (outside of that anomaly of the Wyoming game, in which they only totaled three ).
Rice also inserted senior Robin Jorch into the starting lineup recently, moving R.J. Williams to the bench. Both are playing well this season, with Williams still getting the majority of the minutes. Williams, despite being undersized at the center position, has been strong defensively and solid on the offensive end. He’s averaging 11.9 points and leads the team with 8.3 rebounds per game. Williams has five double-doubles this season.
And Marcus Dickinson has scored when needed, but, as the point guard, has continued to show his penchant for not turning the ball over. He has only 14 turnovers this season while averaging 27.9 minutes per game.
A peek at Nevada
The Wolf Pack might not be the powerhouse they were in 2018-19 but even with a new head coach in Steve Alford and practically a new lineup, they are still winning.
They do share a couple of common opponents with Boise State. Nevada lost to BYU — who the Broncos defeated — by 33. The Wolf Pack recently defeated Colorado State 67-61, a team Boise State defeated by 11 in December.
Nevada has won 7 straight against the Broncos.
Transfer Jalen Harris leads the Wolf Pack in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.3 and 6.9, respectively. Jazz Johnson isn’t too far behind in scoring, averaging 16.4 per game. Johnson has also knocked down 43 three-pointers, shooting 43 percent from behind the arc.
Lindsey Drew can fill the box score as well. Drew is averaging 12.6, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game.
Tip-off between the Boise State Broncos and Nevada Wolf Pack is scheduled for 4 pm (MT) on Saturday. The game can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.
Stats taken from broncosports.com