Slowly but surely, Leon Rice’s team is finding its stride on offense. But right now, it’s about finding the silver lining in tough losses.
Boise State got a combined 25 second-half points from guard Paris Austin and forward Nick Duncan, but the Broncos were unable to overcome an eight-point halftime deficit and lost to Mississippi State 80-68 at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic on Friday.
Friday’s loss sets up an 11:30 a.m. Sunday matchup with Western Michigan (1-3) on ESPN3.
The Broncos (1-2) fall to 2-5 all-time against opponents from the SEC.
“I think we just have to take the positives out of the game,” senior forward Nick Duncan said. “It was a hard loss, but I think we’re one stop away, two stops away from being in the game. We have a lot of young guys on a team that just need experience, that come back win, and make it a habit. I think once we do that, we’ll be a really good team.”
Boise State shot a solid 49.1 percent from the field, up nearly 14 percent from Thursday night’s loss to Charleston.
Still, the bad vibes started early for the Broncos, as Duncan took an elbow to the face from teammate David Wacker in the opening minutes and was forced to leave the game with an open gash. Boise State’s offense consequently struggled, scoring just four points in the opening 6:30.
Chandler Hutchison parlayed Thursday’s career outing (24 points, 12 rebounds) against host Charleston into a strong start Friday, scoring a team-high 13.
As opposed to Thursday, he had some help.
Despite going 1-for-13 from behind the 3-point line, seven players scored in the first half for Boise State, including six points from sophomore center Robin Jorch and six from freshman guard Marcus Dickinson. The Broncos outshot Mississippi State by nearly four percent in the half but shot themselves in the foot with nine turnovers.
Mississippi State freshman guard Quinndary Weatherspoon was dominant, scoring 19 in the first half while helping the Bulldogs to a 37-29 lead.
“You can’t dig yourself that big a hole,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “Because then you have to be perfect.”
Duncan returned in the second half with seven stitches and a bandage on his forehead and showed no ill effects, hitting a pair of key 3-pointers to keep the Broncos within striking range at 59-48.
Weatherspoon scored a game-high 25 points; the freshman guard was one of five Bulldogs with double-digit scoring.
Western Michigan lost to No. 3 Villanova 76-65 in its opener at the Charleston Classic. The MAC program lost to UTEP 85-75 on Friday.
“These guys understand that we’re a work in progress, and we’re sorting through a lot of things,” Rice said. “Everybody is in new sports, new roles. As coaches, we can’t figure out all the new pieces yet. ... They’re going to show up to go back to work.”