Futility continues for Boise State men's basketball team at Utah State

The Broncos are unable to reverse their fortunes on the road.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comFebruary 9, 2014 

Utah State’s Spencer Butterfield drives past Boise State’s Dezymn Trent on Saturday afternoon.

ELI LUCERO — The Herald Journal

LOGAN, Utah — It didn’t come down to the final shot this time, but the result was the same.

The Utah State Aggies and their balanced offense made sure the Boise State men's basketball couldn't get in a position for a chance to win Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Following a tie at the half, Utah State made 13 of its first 18 field-goal attempts in the second half to beat Boise State 76-70. It was the third straight loss for the Broncos, who fell to 0-18 all-time in Logan.

“We can score with the best of them, but we need to step it up defensively,” Boise State junior Anthony Drmic said. “You can have scoring droughts, but you’ve got to make sure to put them in one, and we didn’t do that.”

Tied 33-33 at the half, Boise State (15-9, 5-6) was sunk by two very different sources — 6-foot-3 guard Preston Medlin and 6-10 center Jarred Shaw.

Medlin had 14 of his 19 points in the second half, making 6-of-8 field goals, while Shaw had 11 of his 17 points.

The Aggies (14-9, 4-7) took advantage of Boise State senior Ryan Watkins' occasional absence by attacking freshman Nick Duncan down low. Watkins, who had 15 points and 16 rebounds Jan. 18 in the teams' prior meeting, had seven points and nine rebounds Saturday, playing only nine second-half minutes. All four of Shaw's second-half field goals came with Watkins off the floor.

"That's a tough matchup when Ryan isn't out there," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "Ryan was sick, he wasn't his usual self out there. Then he had a couple of fouls and that thinned us out a bit."

Shaw's layup with 6:59 to play made it 63-53 in the Aggies' favor, but a layup and a free throw by Derrick Marks got Boise State within three, at 69-66 with 2:35 to go. Neither team scored until 59 seconds remained, when the Aggies hit a pair of free throws, and Boise State was never within five again.

"We had a hard time stopping them, but they had a little harder time stopping us," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said.

Utah State shot 56.9 percent (29-of-51), with Boise State at 46.4 percent (26-of-56). Drmic had a game-high 26 points, and Marks added 21. Not keen to talk about his strong showing, Drmic stressed the need to avoid runs against his team.

"We can't break apart, regardless of where we're playing — we've done that a couple times this year, and that's been a weakness," Drmic said. "When we're playing at our best, we're one of the best teams in the country, but we can't be negative. We know we're really on the verge of breaking through."

Ten players got on the floor in the first 10 minutes for the Broncos, including juniors Joe Hanstad and Jake Ness, who combined to play 14 minutes. Those two had played a combined nine minutes since Dec. 5. It was a new twist from Rice, whose team has lost six times when leading or within three points with 30 seconds to go.

"It's going to pay off, because we're getting better as a team, and all those guys are going to help us win games," Rice said.

Minutes after the loss, Drmic noted the Broncos lost four of five last January — by 52 points — before bouncing back with a strong finish. That could start with Wednesday's upcoming home game against defending Mountain West champion New Mexico, which finishes a brutal two weeks that included a four-point loss at UNLV and a two-point home loss to No. 5 San Diego State on Wednesday before Saturday's setback.

"This season isn't lost by any means," Rice said. "It has to be the toughest four-game stretch in program history. Our guys have fought every single time, and they know it will turn around if they keep it up."

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