Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice apologized Friday for using the word “hate” when describing fans’ feelings toward the Oregon Ducks.
Boise State and the Idaho Statesman, which published the comment in Friday’s newspaper, received complaints.
“I want to apologize for using a word I didn’t mean to use, and I know better than that,” Rice said at the beginning of his media Q&A. “When you talk about rivalries, you talk about strong words, passion, all that stuff, but my mom would be angry with me for using that hate word. That was bad. I just want our fans to come out passionate like they always are. Let’s sell this place out. Oregon, I’m very, very grateful to that place — that’s where I got my start in college coaching.”
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You can’t call it a rivalry because the two schools rarely meet.
But Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice is well aware of Broncos fans’ distaste for the Oregon Ducks — and he wants them to bring that “hate” to Saturday night’s game at Taco Bell Arena.
No. 24 Oregon will become just the seventh ranked nonconference opponent to play the Broncos on their home floor. The Ducks (7-1) are the first such team to play here in eight years and the fourth in the past 17 years.
“We need this place sold out,” said Rice, whose team will play in Eugene twice in future years as part of the deal. “Let’s get Bronco Nation to come out and hate the Ducks as much as they do and help us win this game.”
The limited history between the Broncos and Ducks in the two marquee sports includes Boise State’s wins over the Oregon football team in 2008 and 2009. At that time, the two programs were among the nation’s best and fighting for position in polls, which created quite a bit of trash talk among fans.
In basketball, the teams haven’t met since the 2011 College Basketball Invitational. They haven’t met in the regular season since 1996 in Boise. BSU is 0-5 vs. the Ducks.
Oregon went 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament last year, losing to top-seeded Wisconsin. The Ducks lost Pac-12 Player of the Year Joseph Young but are expected to make their fourth straight NCAA trip.
Freshman Tyler Dorsey is the team’s leading scorer (14.4 points per game). He didn’t play Monday against Navy after sustaining a day-to-day knee injury last week in a loss to UNLV.
Four other Ducks average at least 11.8 points per game.
“I never peek ahead, but I’ve had a lot of opportunities, especially recently, to watch them on TV,” Rice said after Wednesday’s win against Loyola Marymount. “Holy cow, they are a talented team and with a great coach.”
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No. 24 Oregon (7-1) at Boise State (6-4)
- When: 5 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- TV: CBS Sports Network
- Radio: KBOI (670 AM); Bob Behler and Abe Jackson
- Tickets: Boise State has distributed 9,841 tickets. Most remaining seats are $15 adults in the balcony. Some singles remain in lower sections.
A rare chance for the Broncos
No. 24 Oregon will be the seventh ranked nonconference men’s basketball opponent to play Boise State at Taco Bell Arena. The others:
Dec. 29, 2007: Beat No. 20 BYU 73-70
Nov. 13, 2007: Lost to No. 9 Washington State 86-74
Dec. 30, 1999: Lost to No. 3 Cincinnati 78-46
Dec. 4, 1998: Beat No. 15 Washington 69-61
Dec. 22, 1987: Lost to No. 5 Wyoming 59-55
Dec. 10, 1983: Beat No. 20 Fresno State 60-52
Notable: Boise State is 7-46 all-time vs. ranked teams; 4-10 vs. ranked teams at home. ... The highest ranked conference team to come to Taco Bell Arena: No. 5 San Diego State on Feb. 5, 2014 (Boise State lost 67-65).