Wyoming did not have Josh Adams. Boise State had beet juice.
Seeking any possible way to negate Wyoming’s home court advantage 7,220 feet above sea level at the Arena-Auditorium, Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice asked strength and conditioning coach Adam Hermann for some help.
The altitude was a mental issue more than anything, Hermann said.
But Rice needed something, anything. Hermann mentioned a Norwegian study he read that said beet juice improved blood vessel function. That’s all Rice needed to hear.
So Hermann stopped by Whole Foods on Friday to get enough for the whole team. The result: an 81-71 win over the Cowboys on Saturday.
“I even took some, and it’s the best I’ve felt here — never got dizzy, never felt like passing out,” Rice said. “Adam should get an assist.”
Dwight Schrute may swear by it, but not everyone loves beets.
“Some guys definitely didn’t like it, but I didn’t mind it,” said senior guard Lonnie Jackson, who had a season-high 21 points. “I told coach Hermann I could feel it in my veins before the game. I felt it. I think it made a difference.”
Without Adams (24.6 points per game), suspended by the Mountain West for Saturday’s game because of an accumulation of three technical fouls this season, the Cowboys (10-11, 3-5 MW) played an extremely inspired first half. Wyoming made 7-of-10 3-pointers for a 38-38 tie at the break and an 18-11 rebounding edge.
Then the juice kicked in.
Boise State (15-5, 6-1) made 5-of-6 3-pointers to start the second half and never trailed in the final frame, fending off three different Wyoming runs that cut the lead to four.
Jackson, who didn’t score in Boise State’s previous three games and had 14 in the four games prior, had 15 in the second half alone, hitting four 3-pointers in the first 7:05.
“As long as we’re winning, I’ve been happy. But I wanted to stay aggressive, make the most of it, even if I played 2 minutes,” Jackson said. “I got in there and was just ready to shoot.”
The Broncos fired 33 3-point attempts, one shy of tying the school record, making 13. Senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic, still nagged by his left leg injury, played one of his better games of late, with 15 points (3-of-8 on 3s), seven rebounds and three assists with no turnovers.
“Vintage Drmic,” Rice said. “He was a warrior, had that look where he was going to do whatever it took to win.”
Drmic said “I can’t score like I used to be able to, but I’m helping however I can.” He also praised junior forward James Webb III, who had nine points and five rebounds in his first game without double-digit points or rebounds since Nov. 27.
“It took a few possessions, but Webbie recognized they wanted him to settle for shots, almost triple-teaming him,” Drmic said. “It’s another asset. He saw that and it meant me, Lonnie, whoever, would have room on the perimeter.”
When Boise State could get it inside, it had some good stretches, including a career-best eight points from redshirt freshman forward Zach Haney and 15 points from senior guard Mikey Thompson. The Broncos had just five turnovers to 16 assists, improving to 39-1 the past five seasons when they have 15 or more assists.
“What separates Boise State from everyone else in the league ... it’s the sixth, seventh and eighth weapon that are all capable of beating you, which they did tonight,” Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said.
Wyoming was the only Mountain West team Boise State didn’t beat last season, handing the Broncos their only double-digit conference loss in their visit to the Arena-Auditorium on Jan. 10, 2015 (a 65-54 defeat). Winners of six straight league road games, the Broncos have another on deck Wednesday at UNLV.
“I think we’re coming around, getting a little more of a rhythm, getting a lot of guys involved on any night,” Jackson said.
Boise State (15-5, 6-1) at UNLV (12-8, 3-4), 9 p.m. Wednesday (CBS Sports Network, 670 AM)