After a few weeks at home, the Boise State men’s basketball team is hitting the road again.
After finishing their nonconference schedule with a 79-62 win over Cal State Northridge last week, the Broncos begin Mountain West play at Utah State on Wednesday (7 p.m., Root).
Boise State played six of its first 11 games on the road at Charleston, Evansville, Oregon and Loyola Marymount, going 2-4. The Broncos won their first three Mountain West road games last season, including their second straight in Logan on Jan. 5.
“I like it, because you’re dialed in whether you’re at home or road at the start of conference,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “Everyone’s going to be geared up to play conference games. And I don’t mind starting on the road.”
Utah State is led by senior forward Jalen Moore (16.6 points per game) and freshman guard Koby McEwen (12.8). Boise State won both meetings last season but trails the all-time series 30-12.
Here is an update on each Mountain West team in order of the preseason media poll, including how they fared during nonconference play and when they play Boise State:
SAN DIEGO ST. (8-4)
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 7 (Boise)
Coach Steve Fisher and his defending MW regular-season champions lost three in a row from Dec. 3-10. They’ve won four straight since, holding opponents to 52 points per game during the streak. Jeremy Hemsley (16.2 ppg) and preseason first-team All-MW selection Trey Kell (13.9) lead the conference’s lowest-scoring team (71.0 ppg), but the Aztecs are first in scoring defense (61.3).
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 25 (Boise); Feb. 22 (Reno)
The Wolf Pack have notched arguably the conference’s best win of the season, an 87-85 win at Washington on Dec. 11 by way of a Marcus Marshall basket in the waning seconds. Marshall (20.2 ppg), the MW’s scoring leader, and forward Cameron Oliver (15.7 ppg, 3.08 blocks) lead a prolific team that ranks 92nd of 347 teams in the country in scoring (78.2).
NEW MEXICO (7-5)
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 17 (Boise); Feb. 14 (Albuquerque)
Junior guard Elijah Brown (16.1 ppg) was the preseason pick for MW Player of the Year after earning first-team All-MW honors in 2015-16. Senior forward Tim Williams, a second-team pick last season, leads the Lobos in scoring (18.1) and rebounding (6.8).
FRESNO ST. (8-4)
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 14 (Fresno); Feb. 28 (Boise)
Last season’s MW Tournament champions are flying under the radar again this season. The loss of 2015-16 MW Player of the Year Marvelle Harris (22.7 ppg) and the team’s top five scorers from makes Fresno State an unknown. Coach Rodney Terry’s team shoots a league-leading 48.6 percent from the field (34th in nation).
BOISE ST. (7-4)
Boise State had a busy first month, traveling more than 9,000 miles while playing against stiff competition. The Broncos are young but have a ton of upside and have evolved to be much more than just Nick Duncan, the team’s sole returning starter from last year (10.2 ppg). Junior guard Chandler Hutchison has made major strides, averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game, an increase of more than 10 from last season (6.8). Sophomore Paris Austin is averaging 10.8 points per game on 50.2 percent shooting. True freshman guard Justinian Jessup (9.3 ppg) also has played a huge role in the team’s early success.
UTAH ST. (6-5)
▪ vs. BSU: Dec. 28 (Logan); Feb. 4 (Boise)
Preseason first-team All-MW selection Jalen Moore leads the Aggies with 16.6 ppg. If Utah State wants to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, senior guard Shane Rector (11.9) and true freshman guard Koby McEwen (12.8) will need to continue their hot play. McEwen, a four-star prospect, is a contender for Freshman of the Year.
COLORADO ST. (8-5)
▪ vs. BSU: Dec. 31 (Boise); Jan. 31 (Fort Collins)
With a somewhat anemic offense that shoots a conference-worst 42.2 percent, the Rams are winning games on defense. They are second in the conference in field goal percentage defense (38.6) and second in offensive rebounds per game (12). Senior forward Emmanuel Omogbo averages 11.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 4 (Las Vegas)
The Runnin’ Rebels underwent one of the conference’s two coaching changes in the offseason, hiring New Mexico State’s Marvin Menzies. Menzies led the Aggies to five NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons. UNLV is the only team in the conference with a negative scoring margin (minus-0.8).
AIR FORCE (7-6)
▪ vs. BSU: Feb. 11 (Boise); March 4 (Colorado Springs)
Coach Dave Pilipovich, in his fifth full year at the helm, leads the highest scoring team in the Mountain West. The Falcons average 78.7 points per game and shoot a conference-best 41.7 percent from 3-point range (ninth in the nation). Junior guard Jacob Van and senior forward Hayden Graham lead the Falcons in scoring with 12.1 and 12 points per game, respectively. The Falcons rank last in the MW in field goal defense (45.1 percent).
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 28 (Laramie); Feb. 18 (Boise)
The biggest surprise of the conference, the Cowboys nearly notched the league’s best win, losing to No. 23 USC 94-92 in overtime. Despite losing Josh Adams (24.7 ppg), the MW’s leading scorer from last season, Wyoming has nearly matched last season’s win total (14). Sophomore guard Justin James leads Wyoming with 16.8 points per game off the bench. Fellow reserve Hayden Dalton, who was named MW Player of the Week on Monday, averages 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds.
SAN JOSE ST. (7-4)
▪ vs. BSU: Jan. 21 (San Jose); Feb. 25 (Boise)
The Spartans have almost won as many games as they did last season (nine). Former Boise State assistant Dave Wojcik appears to have San Jose State headed in the right direction; the Spartans are fourth in the MW in points per game (77.2) and have a plus-6.8 scoring margin. They were minus-3.4 in 2015-16.