Marks delivers Boise State men's basketball to narrow victory over Utah

Broncos prevail in relatively low-scoring affair, set record for best start to a season.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comDecember 4, 2013 

— Boise State’s Derrick Marks already has ice in his veins, so spending most of the second half affixed to the bench wasn’t going to cool him off much.

The Broncos’ late-game ace came up big again Tuesday against Utah, stepping back into the game with 3 minutes, 52 seconds to play after 12 minutes on the bench with four fouls.

Marks scored the Broncos’ final six points, including the go-ahead jumper with 55 seconds to play as Boise State nabbed the 69-67 win, which saw both teams post their lowest scoring output of the season.

“You count on him to do that, and he delivers,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “That’s tough to do, too, when you have to sit 10 straight minutes like he had to.”

The Taco Bell Arena crowd of 7,151 saw something it has grown used to — five times last season and already once this season, Marks had 20 or more points in the second half of a game. His shot with 6-foot-9 Renan Lenz in his face to go up 67-66 was hardly shocking. Nine of his 17 points came in the second half Tuesday, but one of his biggest plays came on the defensive end.

Marks missed the front end of a one-and-one with 28 seconds left, leading 67-66, but the junior sprinted down the floor to force a turnover on the other end. He then tacked on two free throws with 18 seconds to play.

“When I got back in the game, I knew it was winning time,” Marks said.

Utah’s Delon Wright hit one of two free throws with 5.5 seconds to go, putting senior Jeff Elorriaga on the line for the Broncos. He missed both, but the Utes’ desperation shot from half court was well off target.

“He’ll make the next two,” Boise State junior Anthony Drmic said of Elorriaga.

Drmic was a big key in stepping up while Marks was off the floor. The Utes took their first lead since early in the first half as Marks sat, leading for more than 8 minutes until Drmic hit a layup to go up 56-55 with 7:52 left. Drmic had 11 points while Marks was on the bench.

“The thing about our team that I’m most happy about is we did a lot of things wrong and they still did the one thing right that’s really important — they found a way to win,” Rice said. “I’m really pleased with the way they just kept grinding.”

The Utes got the lead back on a Jordan Loveridge 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining to go up 66-65, but it was shot-lived as the next basket was Marks’ go-ahead shot. Loveridge finished with 19 points, 16 in the second half.

Utah made just 2-of-14 3-pointers in the first half, and missed the first three attempts of the second half before making four of the next five to get up 46-42, which would be the Utes’ biggest lead of the game. Loveridge’s 3 was the only one the rest of the way for Utah, which finished 7-of-29 on 3-pointers (24.1 percent).

“They’ve been on fire, that team … holding them to 24 percent from 3 was probably the difference in the game,” Rice said of Utah, which was scoring 90.7 points per game.

Drmic had 14 points for the Broncos, and Mikey Thompson had 13 points off the bench. Ryan Watkins added eight points and 10 rebounds for the Broncos, who came into the game No. 1 in the nation in scoring at 97.7 ppg.

“Boise will be a top-25 team, and we were really pleased with our performance,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “This is like a Pac-12 road game and we’re going to play these types of games all season. How can you not be excited when you play games like these?”

The Broncos host NAIA Carroll on Thursday, meaning they likely will be 8-0 for the first time ever before one of the biggest games in school history — at No. 3 Kentucky next Tuesday.

“It’s a great milestone,” Rice said. “I like milestones. For us, these have been great. To have to win a game like this to get it, it’s much-deserved.”

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn

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