The Boise State Broncos men’s basketball team knew they’d open the Mountain West tournament facing a team they’d only faced once this season.
As the Broncos watched on Wednesday, the #6/#11 match-up between San Diego State and UNLV turned into a tale of two halves.
After UNLV took a 32-14 halftime lead, the Runnin’ Rebels found themselves down 50-45 with just under four minutes left. They were able to force overtime at 50, but in the end the Aztecs were too much, winning 62-52.
The day also featured 10th seed Air Force running out to a 25-0 lead over seventh seed Wyoming, ultimately winning 83-68.
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) March 9, 2017
Eighth seed Utah State, in a game which was close for the first 30 minutes, defeated ninth seed San Jose State 90-64 in the other first-round game.
The Broncos (12-6, 19-10) enter Thursday night’s quarterfinal game against riding the wave of a career-night last Saturday at Air Force. Boise State knocked down a school-record–and Mountain West tying–20 three-pointers in the 98-70 victory.
James Reid had a career-high 26 points in that game. Nearly matching him was fellow senior Nick Duncan who scored 23. The two combined to knock down 13 three-pointers.
The starting five, after a disappointing senior night loss to Fresno State, responded nicely by placing four starters in double figures in scoring. In the previous game’s loss, the starters only put up 22 of the team’s 67 points.
The bench, on the other hand, continues to be a bright spot. Led by honorable mention all-conference selection Paris Austin, there hasn’t been a lot of drop off when the bench takes the floor. Austin is averaging 12.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Players like Alex Hobbs, Marcus Dickinson, and Zach Haney have consistently contributed over the past month. Even more impressive is how much Hobbs and Dickinson, both freshman, have improved as the season has gone on.
Hobbs is averaging 9.4 points per game over his last five games. He is shooting 65.5% (19-29) in this span, including 5-7 (71.4%) from beyond the arc.
Chandler Hutchison was named by the coaches to the Mountain West first team earlier this week. On the season, Hutchison averages 17.2 points and 8 rebounds per game.
San Diego State
Boise State defeated the Aztecs in San Diego back in January, 78-66. That game saw five Boise State players score in double figures, led by Haney and Reid each scoring 19.
San Diego State, who was without Malik Pope in that game, was led by Dakari Allen’s 17 points. Max Hoetzel nailed down 5 of 6 threes in that game.
Allen only had three points against UNLV and Hoetzel had two.
Trey Kell and Jeremy Hemsley lead the Aztecs, each scoring 13.2 points per game. They combined for 16 points in the first meeting, shooting 4-16 from the field.
Kell had 13 against the Runnin’ Rebels, but was 3-11 from the field as the Aztecs shot only 31%
Pope is averaging 10 points and 5.7 rebounds per game on the season. The junior had 13 points and 12 rebounds against UNLV.
D’Erryl Williams, a senior, also did not play against Boise State, but was instrumental in Wednesday’s comeback. He had eight points, but took a hard fall late in overtime and had to be helped off the floor.
All games at Thomas & Mack Center and on the CBS Sports Network. (All times Mountain time)
#8 Utah State vs #1 Nevada (1:00 pm)
#5 New Mexico vs #4 Fresno State (3:30 pm)
#10 Air Force vs #2 Colorado State (7:00 pm)
#6 San Diego State vs #3 Boise State (9:30 pm)