From one of the top Big Sky teams to another, the Boise State men's basketball team seeks its first win in its home opener at Taco Bell Arena.
The Broncos, coming off a 74-72 loss at Montana on Friday, host Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. Monday, televised on ROOT. The Lumberjacks went 23-15 last season, notching a win at Saint Mary’s. In their lone game this season, they lost at Washington State.
“A really good team last year, they won some big road games and they present a lot of problems,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “This is going to be another tough game for us, if we don't make a jump from where we were Friday night, then we're in big trouble.”
Rice said with a lot of practice time lost during the preseason because of various injuries, some players are shaking off rust, while the team is seeking out its best rotations. He pointed to the fact Derrick Marks had just five points in last year's home opener and wound up Mountain West Player of the Year.
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Some silver linings for the Broncos were two seniors' performances — Mikey Thompson's 15 points off the bench and Anthony Drmic's 23 points. Rice said Thompson still isn't up to speed after missing most of the preseason and Drmic is “75-80 percent” coming back from ankle surgery.
“We’re in get-better mode ... we opened in a tough spot against a good team,” Rice said. “We’re just not clicking yet — we’re gonna.”
A key for the Broncos as they move forward is going to be their defense, which struggled late in Missoula, as the Griz make eight of their final nine field goals, pulling down an offensive rebound on a missed free throw in the final minute that led to the go-ahead basket.
“Give them some credit, you look at the film, they made some tough shots,” Rice said. “... in a game like that where it comes to one or two possessions, one or two mistakes can hurt you. We just need to get a lot better defensively.”