Boise State Basketball

With brutal schedule looming, Boise State basketball’s offense showing signs of life

Boise State senior Nick Duncan shoots a 3-pointer against Mississippi State during the Charleston Classic at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C. Duncan returned to the Nov. 18 game after taking an elbow to the head.
Boise State senior Nick Duncan shoots a 3-pointer against Mississippi State during the Charleston Classic at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C. Duncan returned to the Nov. 18 game after taking an elbow to the head. The Associated Press

A new gash on his forehead, some lost blood and seven stitches.

And Nick Duncan is doing just fine, thank you.

The senior forward was expected to be one of the few known commodities in Boise State’s young basketball lineup this season, especially in the first trip of the season at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. After losing their opener to the College of Charleston last week, the Broncos took on Mississippi State and looked to get off to a fast start.

Then Duncan’s head met David Wacker’s elbow.

Early in the first half, Duncan went up for a rebound and collided with his teammate. After spending a moment on the ground, Duncan realized what happened.

“It hurt a little bit so I just kind of stopped and put my hand up straight away, and it was just covered in blood. It was a fair bit of blood, but that’s basketball,” said Duncan, stitched up with what will resemble a Harry Potter-shaped scar. “Wacker felt pretty bad afterwards.”

Duncan played in the second half with a bandage around his head but, despite helping keep things close with his four 3-pointers, Boise State fell to Mississippi State 80-68.

On Sunday, after shooting a combined 42 percent in losses to Charleston and Mississippi State, Boise State shot a blistering 59 percent from the field en route to a 91-70 win over Western Michigan. Junior swingman Chandler Hutchison averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds over three tournament games for the Broncos.

Early on in the tournament, the problem was youth and jitters. Toward the end, coach Leon Rice’s kids grew up.

“We had some new guys that maybe had some big eyes and a little nerves going. And we worked through some things. And that’s the beauty of these tournaments, because there’s eight good teams. You have the national champions (Villanova) in this tournament,” Rice said. “It gives you that opportunity to be together for four days and work through a lot of the stuff that you need to work through.”

The Broncos (2-2), just like Duncan’s head, have rebounded from a less than ideal start.

“We had it in us at the start. We just couldn’t figure it out. We were in both games,” Duncan said. “We figured it out down the stretch with the last game.”

Boise State’s offense seems to have found its stride at the right time, as the upcoming schedule is about to get tough. They host Presbyterian on Friday (7 p.m., Taco Bell Arena), play at No. 13 Oregon on Monday (9 p.m., Pac-12 Network) and host SMU on Wednesday (7 p.m., Taco Bell Arena).

The Broncos also play at Evansville, Ind., on Dec. 3 and at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Dec. 5.

“It’s a gauntlet, that whole stretch,” Rice said. “We have five games in 11 days and three of them are on the road.”

First up is Presbyterian, which hails from Clinton, S.C., and the Big South Conference and has been an NCAA Division I program since 2007. The Blue Hose are led by freshman guard Jo’Vontae Millner, who averages a team-high 12.8 points and 7 rebounds per game.

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

Presbyterian (2-2) at Boise State (2-2)

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Taco Bell Arena (12,480), Boise
  • Radio: 670 AM (Mark Snider and Abe Jackson)
  • Web broadcast: The game will be broadcast on the Mountain West Network (free online).
  • Series: First meeting
  • Black Friday Special: Walk-ups to the ticket office will receive tickets at half price. Ticket vouchers from local Taco Bell stores may also be redeemed.
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