LAS VEGAS - From head to foot, one ailment or another has tried to keep Jeff Elorriaga off the floor this season.
Only a concussion kept him on the bench - for three games - but his presence has proved invaluable, even as he's dealt with notable injuries.
"Every year has gotten more and more grueling on the body," Elorriaga said. "I've been kinda getting beat up quite a bit."
It isn't much of a coincidence that Boise State 21-6 with Elorriaga, and 0-3 without him. Often referred to as the team's "glue guy" and perhaps its key leader, Elorriaga is averaging a career-best 10.4 points a game and his 45.3 percent shooting clip from 3-point range is tied for fifth nationally.
"He's so unbelievably tough, so important to us," coach Leon Rice said.
At 6-foot-2, Elorriaga isn't physically imposing, but there's plenty of fight in the shortest player on the roster.
Growing up with an older brother, John, Elorriaga quickly developed toughness. The brothers would often play football not in the yard, but in the street.
Elorriaga got tripped up, and went headfirst into the concrete. He got up, blood dripping from his head and saw a nice patch of his hair on the asphalt.
"He used to beat the heck out of me, but I just wanted to keep playing, I didn't want to be the soft guy," Elorriaga said of playing with his brother, who would later play basketball at Oregon.
Elorriaga was a quarterback in high school in Portland, but was not a fan of getting hit. When he arrived in Boise in 2010 as a walk-on, he felt he had to exert as much, if not more, effort than the other players - even if that meant taking nasty charges or putting his body in harm's way.
"I love getting guys who have played football like Jeff," Rice said. "When I sat there this summer (before putting Elorriaga on scholarship), I thought to myself 'self, you're a hypocrite if you don't' because that's the kind of guy that embodies what we're trying to do here."
As a freshman, Elorriaga played with a broken nose late in the season, sporting the ever-fashionable facemask. His sophomore season, he fractured his thumb last Jan. 21. Rice said he would be out for the year a few days later.
Elorriaga returned to the floor Feb. 11.
"Guys already had a lot of respect for him, but that was impressive," guard Derrick Marks said.
Though his junior year has seen a concussion, a sprained shoulder, a media interview while he wore a hospital mask not wanting to spread a cold and, most recently, some facial scrapes from a stray hand, Elorriaga feels that his maladies may be a bit more numerous, but he isn't the only one at this point feeling beat up.
"I've had a few bumps, but I'm still moving, I'm still playing, it's kind of part of the game," he said.