The Boise State mens basketball team welcomed an old friend Saturday, then proceeded to make his squad very uncomfortable.
The Broncos never trailed in a 76-55 win over San Jose State and first-year coach Dave Wojcik, who was a Boise State assistant the prior three seasons.
Cultivating a 48-26 halftime lead, Boise State created 10 turnovers, turning them into 11 points. The Broncos did not turn it over once their first time with a turnover-free half since March 11, 2004.
We had a good approach to this game, we took them out of what they wanted to do early no turnovers in the first half; I dont know if Ive ever seen that, Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Coming off an 84-75 loss at New Mexico on Tuesday where the Broncos (14-6, 4-3 MW) found themselves in a 17-4 hole, there was no such lull to start against the Spartans (6-14, 0-8).
Each of Boise States first four 3-pointers found net, and the Broncos lead was never fewer than 10 for the games last 28 minutes, leading by as many as 24.
We talked about that before the game we wanted to come out with an edge, with energy, because we knew Woj would have these guys playing hard, we had to come out firing, Boise State senior Ryan Watkins said.
The Spartans, who came into the game making 9.6 3-pointers per game, made 5-of-17 from long distance. Top scorer Rashad Muhammad, a freshman who was averaging 15.6 points per game, was held scoreless for the first time in his career. San Jose State finished with 12 turnovers and only three assists.
(Boise State) has so much experience, and it showed, especially in the first half, Wojcik said. We didnt handle the press in the beginning. They caused some problems there.
Though it came at his teams expense, Wojcik couldnt help but be impressed by the progress of one of his proteges, Watkins. The senior had a season-high 18 points and 16 rebounds five days after tallying 15 points and 22 boards. Saturday was his fourth straight double-double and his ninth of the season.
Watkins is averaging 11.2 points and 10.7 rebounds a game on the year. Im so happy for him, Wojcik said.
I just play for my team, and they give me the energy to keep going, Watkins said.
Three other Broncos scored in double figures, led by Derrick Marks 19 points. Mikey Thompson added 11 and Anthony Drmic 10.
After facing who he said is one of his best friends, Rice was able to relax with the win, and had Wojcik and his family over for dinner afterward.
Its a huge relief, Rice said. My joy is his misery, and I hate that. Its always a tough one. But I certainly didnt want his joy to be my misery.
Normally when the Broncos would hear Wojciks voice, it was an attempt to push them. On Saturday, he offered no such instruction, only to his own players. Watkins called it surreal, and the Broncos were reminded of tough practices when they heard that familiar shout.
Im sure everybody could hear it, Marks said. It brought back nightmares.
Following a win in a game with some extra emotion, next up for the Broncos is a home game Wednesday night against Air Force, the only time they get back-to-back home games in conference play.
Weve got to get rolling now, Watkins said. Its going to be important for us to get some key wins down the stretch, but weve got to take it one game at a time.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420