LAS VEGAS For the first time in his Boise State career, sophomore Anthony Drmics family got to see him play in person. With his mother, sister and niece visiting from Australia, Drmic played one of his most complete games of the season Sunday.
Drmic had a game-high 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal as the Broncos rolled past New Orleans 67-51 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The game was part of the Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic, a two-day, four-game event hosted by the Pac-12 as a trial run for the leagues tournament in March.
Its always great to have the family there to support you. Its a great feeling, said Drmic, who is headed to Florida with his family to celebrate Christmas.
His teammates were just happy to see Drmic return to full health. He has been battling a flu and stomach illness, which limited his points and effectiveness in Boise States win against Idaho.
When he was playing the Idaho game, I was just hoping he didnt throw up on me, junior Jeff Elorriaga said. To come out here and play well again, its pretty impressive. I dont know how hes doing it, but hes doing it.
Elorriaga and Drmic keyed the Broncos hot start Sunday against New Orleans (3-8). The pair combined to make 7-of-8 3-point attempts four on four attempts from Elorriaga in the first 11 minutes as Boise State (9-2) raced to a commanding lead. The Broncos pushed their edge to 42-18 on a Drmic dunk with 3 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first half.
I was really, really proud of the way our guys came out focused because youve got a lot of distractions, Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
The team arrived in Vegas on Friday, stayed two nights at the MGM Grand and attended the football teams win against Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Several players families were in town for the game and the holidays. Boise State fans accounted for the vast majority of the 732 people in attendance.
Rice, who has limited his rotation to seven players in the early season, reached deep into his bench. Every Bronco played in the game, but the crisp efficiency and stellar defense of the first few minutes wasnt evident throughout.
New Orleans, which shot 29 percent in the first half, trimmed the Broncos edge to 44-26 at halftime and closed to within 10 points on three occasions in the second half.
It kind of got a little scary there, said Elorriaga, who had 14 points.
New Orleans never got to within single digits in the second half.
We just dug ourselves too big a hole early that we couldnt get out of, New Orleans coach Mark Sessinger said.
Said Rice: I felt we had them at arms length.
Despite foul trouble, Derrick Marks extended his double-digit scoring streak to 14 games. He had 12 points in a season-low 22 minutes. Center Ryan Watkins had eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds in the win.
The players will disperse for Christmas and not return to practice until Friday night. It is the longest break of the season for the Broncos and it comes with the team off to its best start since 2003-04 and feeling pretty good about itself.
The places weve been and the teams weve played, to be 9-2 at the break, Im really proud of our guys, Rice said. We seem to be getting better.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @MurphsTurph