Whether they like it or not, there isn’t much time for the Boise State men’s basketball team to wallow in its tough loss at No. 23 Oregon.
If the Broncos do, there’s a chance Wednesday ends in a similar, agonizing fashion.
Boise State (3-3) fell to the Ducks 68-63 on Monday in Eugene despite leading for all but eight minutes. The Broncos return to Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday to take on an SMU team that, had it not been for a postseason ban, would have been a shoo-in for the NCAA Tournament last season.
It’s just another day in the Broncos’ hectic early schedule that continues in Evansville (Ind.) on Saturday and at Loyola Marymount (Los Angeles) on Monday.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
“We have a huge game Wednesday,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “We have to recover from this.”
The Mustangs (4-2) are led by junior forward Semi Ojeleye, who averages 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Five players average at least 10 points per game for the American Athletic program.
Under first-year head coach Tim Jankovich, the Mustangs notched an impressive victory over Pittsburgh 76-67 and went toe-to-toe with undefeated USC before losing 78-73. Legendary coach Larry Brown resigned in the offseason over a reported contract dispute.
Wednesday night provides another chance for Boise State to notch a marquee nonconference victory. The Broncos have faltered against both of their major conference opponents this season (Mississippi State and Oregon). Though SMU plays in the AAC, the Mustangs will provide just as much of a challenge. Consequently, it can be another measuring stick for a Boise State team still finding its identity.
“I think this team has a lot of potential,” senior forward Nick Duncan said. “Where we go from here is up to us.”
The matchup with SMU also provides Boise State fans a chance to see their team against its first high-quality opponent at home. Because of that, Rice knows how critical establishing a home court advantage could be. Boise State is 21-0 at home in November under Rice.
“We need Bronco Nation to come out. They have a great opportunity to help this team,” Rice said. “This team’s giving everything they can, and it makes a difference when we get a big crowd.”
Boise State’s matchup with SMU is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
After SMU, the next three home games are Portland (Dec. 10), Idaho State (Dec. 18) and Cal State Northridge (Dec. 21).
Boise State (3-3) vs. SMU (4-2)
▪ When: 7 p.m. today
▪ Where: Taco Bell Arena (12,480), Boise
▪ Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler, Abe Jackson)
▪ Broadcast: The game will be streamed for free on the Mountain West Network and Twitter (Ari Wolfe and Richie Schueler).
▪ Series: SMU leads 5-4
▪ Tickets: Adult tickets start at $8 (plus fees) and are available at bronco sports.com/tickets, and the BSU ticket office.
▪ Road warriors: Boise State played at Oregon on Monday, hosts SMU on Wednesday, and plays at Evansville (Ind.) on Saturday and at Loyola Marymount (Los Angeles) on Monday.