In case anyone had forgotten, Derrick Marks showed exactly why he is Boise States closer.
Marks, a junior guard who had seen clutch shots not fall in recent weeks, dominated the final minutes of the Broncos 78-74 win over Utah State on Saturday night.
Trailing 74-73, Marks chased down an Aggie fastbreak layup and blocked it with 39 seconds to play, then hit the game-winning layup with 23.6 seconds to go on the other end. He had 13 of his team-high 19 points in the final 4 minutes, 44 seconds of the game.
It feels good, Marks said. I know my teammates trust me with the ball at the end of the game, and I did what I do.
On Jan. 8 in a 69-66 loss at San Diego State, Marks missed the possible game-winner in the final seconds, and he missed a game-tying shot with 24 seconds to play Dec. 25 in a 70-66 loss to Iowa State.
But before that, there were huge second halves in a win over Idaho this season and big wins last season against Creighton and Colorado State.
We talked about that. Over the course of his career, hes made a lot of those big plays, Boise State coach Leon Rice said. Youre not going to hit a home run every single time, but hes won us a lot of darn games. Thats what I told him, Youre going to do that for us, youre going to be fine.
After Marks bucket, Jarred Shaw, who had 24 points, missed a 4-footer with 3.6 seconds left for Utah State (12-5, 2-3), and Anthony Drmic pulled down the rebound for the Broncos (13-5, 3-2), giving the Aggies their last good look at the basket.
Four of the Broncos five losses have come when they were within three points with 30 seconds to play. On Saturday, they trailed 74-70 with 1:23 to play, but closed on an 8-0 run.
They could not have played harder. Each guy gave everything he had, Rice said. Really proud of their grit and their toughness.
A lot of teams could have folded, but we didnt.
Boise State led 50-39 with 14:07 to go after a Nick Duncan 3-pointer. The freshman hit five on the night for a career-best 15 points in 35 minutes.
But the 3 giveth and the 3 taketh.
Utah State hit six 3-pointers in the last eight minutes, including one by Preston Medlin that gave the Aggies a 74-70 edge, their largest of the game.
It felt good, but we let Marks get off and make a couple of baskets and we shouldnt have, Shaw said.
Though the Aggies shot 51.9 percent from the field, making 28-of-54 field goals, they rarely got second chances, while Boise State got plenty.
Utah State, which came into the game No. 6 in the nation in rebounding margin, averaging plus-10.3 per game, was outrebounded 35-23 by the Broncos, who had a 12-4 edge on the offensive glass. Boise States Ryan Watkins had 15 points and 16 rebounds, 10 of them offensive.
We got kicked on the boards, Utah State coach Stew Morrill said.
After showing tenacity in close losses, that effort was showcased again Saturday, but for the Broncos, they finally finished on the right side.
We knew we didnt want to lose any games like this anymore. It showed in our toughness. We came out, got the stops, got the buckets we needed and we came out on top, Watkins said.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn