Derrick Marks can certainly score - but he doesn't have to. And that's a comfort to both the sophomore guard and his Boise State men's basketball team.
"I really don't care about scoring, as long as we're winning," Marks said. "I know now I can help us win in other ways."
For a guy who has four games with 25 points or more this season, one who has proven he can dominate offensively (28 points in the second half of a win over then-No. 11 Creighton on Nov. 28), Marks is enjoying the finer points of being a point guard.
The Boise State sophomore has 16 assists to only two turnovers in his last two games and already has 36 more assists than he had all last season.
"He's just so valuable to the team with his versatility - it's not just his scoring, it's everything," said Boise State coach Leon Rice, who on Saturday called Marks "uniquely unselfish for how good of a scorer he is."
Marks and the Broncos (18-8, 6-6) host Nevada (12-14, 3-9) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena (KBOI 670 AM, no television).
Marks has 16 points in the Broncos' past two games, but in those contests, both wins, he's helped Anthony Drmic and Jeff Elorriaga combine for 88.
It was back on Jan. 5 against Walla Walla when a glimpse of Marks' growth made itself quite apparent. Marks, who was averaging 17.2 points per game entering the contest, didn't attempt a field goal in the first half, and finished with four points on two field goals in 19 minutes - but had nine assists in a game where he could have named his score.
"He's improving by leaps and bounds every single day," Drmic said. "He's the kind of guy that could go in each night and say, 'Tonight I want to pass' or, 'Tonight I want to score.' He is a phenomenal player, and he's really evolving."
Marks led the team in scoring nearly all season until this week. Drmic (16.6 ppg) now leads, with Marks second at 16.0. Marks said the commitment to getting better as an all-around threat was a point of emphasis in the offseason after he showed plenty of scoring potential as a freshman with a team-high 9.6 average in conference play.
"Last year, defense wasn't my thing," Marks said. "The coaches told me if I want to take that next step, I have to pick it up on defense. I don't just have to help by scoring, I can do it with defense or by finding my teammates for the open shot."
As pleased as Rice is with Marks' happiness to pass, he's praised his defense this year. On Saturday at Fresno State, he noted when Marks drew an offensive foul, which was called flagrant, and then spurred a technical foul on the Bulldogs' bench.
"He was really guarding disciplined we get the foul, they get the technical, and we get four free throws and the ball - it's because Derrick has made progress with his defense," Rice said.
The last time Marks faced Nevada, on Jan. 26, he had 11 points and four assists in 27 minutes before fouling out in a 75-59 loss in Reno. The Wolf Pack's coach has taken notice of the sophomore's recent play.
"He's starting to make guys better around him, finding open guys," Nevada coach David Carter said. "That makes for a complete player when he can do that, because you always have to (worry about) him scoring. We know he didn't play well here, but I don't anticipate him having a bad game at home Wednesday night."
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn