There has to be something in the Logan air that makes Boise State teams cough up the ball a little too much.
But unlike the football team and its eight turnovers Oct. 16, the men’s basketball team left town with a win Tuesday night despite an uncharacteristic amount of errors.
The Broncos exceeded their season turnover average in the first half at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, but a remarkable second half followed. Hitting 12 of their first 14 field goals, the Broncos turned a sloppy, close affair into a laugher, routing the Aggies 76-61 for their eighth straight win.
“We weren’t super negative going into the half, we were up (31-29), and probably 75 percent of those turnovers were unforced, so we knew we could blow it open if we cleaned that up,” sophomore guard Chandler Hutchison said.
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Boise State (11-4, 2-0 Mountain West) had not won in the building in its 18 prior visits before snaring a win last February.
“Turnovers drive me crazy, and that was so out of character for us, throwing balls to the referee a few times, as bad a first half maybe in my six years in terms of taking care of the ball,” coach Leon Rice said. “Credit our players and our staff. There was no panic at the half. You know you’re a powerful team when they can correct the issues themselves.”
Even though Boise State matched its season-high with 16 turnovers, it had just two in the final 18:52. Couple that with the strong shooting, and the Broncos led by double digits for the last 8:31.
“It’s never pretty on the road. The game as a whole wasn’t pretty, but boy, that was a pretty second half,” Rice said.
In the first half, neither team held a lead of more than six points, the lead changing hands five times. Utah State had seven offensive rebounds, leading to a 32-23 advantage in field goal attempts. However, the Broncos shot 47.8 percent (11-of-23), while the Aggies shot 37.5 percent (12-of-32).
But Boise State leaned on its considerable depth, as four players finished with 12 or more points, led by senior guard Mikey Thompson’s 17. Hutchison had 15 of the Broncos’ 29 bench points.
Resilience showed not just in the inspired final 20 minutes, but in the likes of junior forward Nick Duncan, who didn’t score Saturday in a win over Colorado State, but had 15 points Tuesday. Senior guard Montigo Alford didn’t play against the Rams, but had seven points in 17 minutes against the Aggies. Senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic, on pace to become the school’s all-time leading scorer, did not score in 25 minutes, but added nine rebounds.
James Webb III added 12 points, including two baskets from 3-point range.
“That’s what is great about this team, even if someone doesn’t play or doesn’t score, we’re all in it together,” Duncan said. “I think that’s going to take us a long way.”
The Broncos shot 59.6 percent from the field (28-of-47), including 70.8 percent in the second half. Utah State shot 43.9 percent (25-of-57), and also had 16 turnovers. Guard Jalen Moore had 18 points for the Aggies, six in the second half.
“We took it possession by possession, we were really patient offensively, probably took the shot clock down 30 seconds probably 10 times,” Duncan said. “Our defense, we stayed consistent, got turnovers and knew the offense would come around if we did that.”
After starting 0-3 in Mountain West play last season, the Broncos have opened 2-0 this year, heading into Saturday’s home game against Fresno State (10-5, 1-1). Boise State has won 17 of its last 18 Mountain West regular-season games.
“It’s big to come here into these sorts of places and expect to win, and we do,” Hutchison said. “When we’ve got that attitude, sky’s the limit for this team.”
BOISE STATE NOTEBOOK
The Boise State-Fresno State game starts at 4 p.m. Saturday in Taco Bell Arena and will be televised on Root. ... Rice said after the game he doesn’t expect sophomore center David Wacker to return this season. He has not played since Dec. 2 because of a foot injury. ... The Broncos’ home game against San Diego State on Jan. 16 will start at 8 p.m. and be televised on ESPN2, the network announced Tuesday. It is the second time this season the Broncos will appear on ESPN2 (Nov. 27 against Michigan State). It will be the first time a Boise State home game has aired on ESPN2 since Nov. 18, 2002, against Eastern Illinois in a Preseason NIT matchup. ... Time and network decisions for two Boise State games remain undetermined as part of ESPN’s NetFlex package: Jan. 23 at Wyoming (ESPNU or ESPN3) and Feb. 2 at home against Utah State (ESPN2 or ESPN3).
Boise State women host Utah State on Wednesday
▪ Time: 7 p.m.
▪ Where: Taco Bell Arena
▪ Radio: KTIK (1350 AM)
▪ Records: Boise State (7-5, 0-1 Mountain West); Utah State (6-7, 1-1)
▪ Tickets: $6 (adults), $3 (seniors/youth)
▪ Notes: The Aggies are led by sophomore guard Funda Nakkasoglu, who is averaging 21.0 points a game (first in the Mountain West, 16th in NCAA). ... The Broncos’ top producer is junior guard Brooke Pahukoa, who is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. ... Boise State leads the all-time series 20-8, including 4-0 in Mountain West games.