To beat Oregon, 'You've got to play flawless,' Boise State basketball's Rice says
Boise State opens a tough two-week, three-time-zone stretch of men’s basketball games Monday night against No. 13 Oregon in Eugene. The Ducks, featuring preseason All-American forward Dillon Brooks, are a different sort of beast.
For redshirt senior guard James Reid, a Bend, Ore., native who was not recruited by the Ducks, it’s a monster he’s been waiting for.
“It’s going to be special,” Reid said. “With how the recruiting and stuff goes, you play in their camps and their team camps, and you never hear from them. You and all the rest of those kids just lick your chops for a game against them one day.”
After a rough start in their first road games at the Charleston Classic, Boise State (3-2) has found its offensive stride the past two games.
The Ducks (4-2) started slowly with losses to Baylor and Georgetown, but they have won two in a row with help from Brooks (11.3 ppg), who missed the first three games of the season with a foot injury and was limited against the Hoyas. Boise State defeated then-No. 24 Oregon 74-72 at Taco Bell Arena on Dec. 12.
Oregon, which rebounded to earn a No. 1 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and reach the Elite Eight, has struggled a bit on offense without a fully healthy Brooks. The Ducks are shooting 42.2 percent from the field and average 70.8 points per game, 249th of 350 Division I teams and eight points fewer than the 2015-16 team. They feature four different double-digit scorers, with Chris Boucher’s 15 points per game leading the way.
But the statistics depicting a less explosive Duck offense don’t give Boise State head coach Leon Rice a sense of comfort.
“They’re a terrific basketball team,” Rice said. “And now they’re getting Dillon Brooks back.”
In the days leading up to Friday’s victory over Presbyterian, Boise State players sat in the players’ lounge watching Oregon’s thrilling overtime win over Tennessee at the Maui Invitational. Now they get their chance at the mighty Ducks with some valuable road experience.
“We just had to wake up a little bit, clear the cobwebs. We were just a little scared,” senior Nick Duncan said of the Charleston Classic. “I think we’re going to take a lot away from this, especially the younger guys and how to react to some adversity during the game.”
Boise State returns home Wednesday to face SMU (4-2) before traveling again to face Evansville (2-3) in Indiana on Saturday and Loyola Marymount (2-2) in Los Angeles on Monday.
Reid couldn’t be more excited for the challenge, starting with his homecoming.
“We’re not oblivious. We know there’s big games coming. But we welcome the challenge. If you didn’t play anybody, nobody would know how good you were,” Reid said. “Those are the ones you look forward to.”
Boise State (3-2) at No. 13 Oregon (4-2)
- When: Monday, 9 p.m.
- Where: Matthew Knight Arena (12,364), Eugene, Ore.
- Radio: 670 AM (Bob Behler and Abe Jackson)
- TV: Pac-12 Network (Dish channel 409). Local locations with the Pac-12 Network include Buffalo Wild Wings in Downtown Boise, and Big Al’s and Pinnacle Sports Grill in Meridian.
- Series: Oregon leads 5-1.