The Boise State men’s basketball team will begin Mountain West play with a good taste in its mouth.
Playing their final nonconference matchup before heading to Utah State to start league play next week, the Broncos blew out Cal State Northridge 79-62 on Wednesday night to improve their home record to 5-0.
Boise State (7-4) improved to 81-17 at Taco Bell Arena under head coach Leon Rice.
Junior Chandler Hutchison and sophomore Paris Austin each scored 20 points.
“We have looked spectacular in sections of games. Now a good team will extend that,” Rice said. “A good team will be able to do that over a whole game.”
CSUN (3-9) entered with one of the worst defenses in the nation, ranking No. 345 in points allowed per game (88.1).
Boise State took advantage of the Matadors’ porous stop unit, scoring 47 first-half points on 40 percent shooting. The Broncos shot 21 free throws in the first half, eight by Hutchison. He was aggressive early, drawing fouls on his first three drives to the basket while scoring 14 first-half points.
“One of their game plans is to draw fouls. So when you know that, you want to go in and kind of be the aggressor and kind take it to them,” Hutchison said. “Starting inside-out and just being aggressive opens up a lot of things.”
Redshirt senior James Reid scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half on 2-for-5 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Nine Boise State players scored in the first half.
Boise State’s 18 made free throws in the first half were the team’s most since 2001.
“That’s always pretty much our game plan,” Rice said. “We want to go fast and we’re looking for ways to go faster.”
While CSUN’s defense was as suspect as advertised, a normally potent offense was stifled. The Matadors were averaging 80.7 points per game but shot 26.9 percent in the first half. Boise State outrebounded CSUN 24-13 in the first half and took a 47-21 lead into the locker room.
“Our main goal was to pack it in the paint so they see bodies,” Austin said. “We knew they were a driving team that likes to draw a lot of fouls.”
CSUN came out hot to start the second, jumping out to an 11-3 run to cut the Broncos’ lead to 18. Twenty two combined second-half points from Hutchison, Austin and redshirt sophomore David Wacker helped Boise State sustain its big lead until the final buzzer.
In addition to his 20 points, Hutchison led Boise State with 11 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season. Zach Haney grabbed nine rebounds in 15 minutes.
Freshman guard Justinian Jessup left the game early in the second half after sustaining a right ankle injury and did not return. He appeared on the bench late with ice wrapped around his ankle.
Boise State opens Mountain West play at Utah State (Dec. 28) and against Colorado State in Boise (Dec. 31). The Broncos have no doubt made strides since opening the regular season against Northwest University in mid-November. A tough nonconference slate of games has Boise State primed to make a statement in what appears to be a wide-open Mountain West race.
“It is a grind. And it’s tough to win any games. It’s going to be an interesting year,” Rice said. “We start one on the road, and it is a crusade to get a road win. Our focus and our attention will be on that.”
Michael Katz: 377-6444