Boise State Basketball

Can Boise State maintain its hot shooting in the MW Tournament? Leon Rice thinks so

Leon Rice thinks Boise State can keep hot-shooting alive in Las Vegas

The Boise State men's basketball team hit a school-record 20 3-pointers at Air Force. BSU head coach Leon Rice believes the strong performance was no fluke, due in large part to great passing that set up open shots.
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The Boise State men's basketball team hit a school-record 20 3-pointers at Air Force. BSU head coach Leon Rice believes the strong performance was no fluke, due in large part to great passing that set up open shots.

Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice isn’t shocked at the way the Broncos shot the ball at Air Force last Saturday.

He just hopes they can keep it going.

The No. 3 seed Broncos (19-10) open play in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals Thursday against No. 6 San Diego State (18-13) in Las Vegas. The game starts at 9:30 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network.

Boise State is coming off its regular-season finale in Colorado Springs, Colo., where it made a school-record 20 3-pointers and hit a season-high 64 percent of its shots in a 98-70 win over Air Force.

Boise State made a combined 11 3-pointers in its previous two games against San Jose State and Fresno State. In eight games prior to their matchup with Air Force, the Broncos made 10 or more 3-pointers twice. They made nine in the first half alone against the Falcons.

“I think that Air Force game was kind of the accumulation of the season of all the things we’ve been working on, things we’ve been trying to get better at,” Rice said. “They all started clicking that night.”

Boise State had a season-high 23 assists on 34 made field goals. Redshirt senior James Reid scored a career-high 26 points and made eight 3-pointers. Senior Nick Duncan scored a season-high 23 points on five 3-pointers. Seven Broncos hit 3-pointers against the Falcons; most of those shots were open looks off good passes.

Six Boise State players totaled two or more assists, led by junior Chandler Hutchison’s seven.

“Am I surprised we made 20 threes? Not at all, because of the ones we got,” Rice said. “We made 20 threes because we took the right ones and we got each other shots. Nick Duncan can make shots when you give him easy ones.”

San Diego State, which defeated No. 11 UNLV 62-52 in overtime of a first-round game Wednesday, boasts the top scoring and field goal percentage defense in the Mountain West. The Aztecs surrender 62.4 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting. Boise State shot 44.8 percent against San Diego State at Taco Bell Arena on Jan. 7 and made 10 3-pointers in a 78-66 win.

“They’re so and athletic, and they take a lot of pride in their defense, and they work hard at it,” Rice said. “They’ve gotten better and better as the year’s gone on. ... It’ll be a big challenge.”

As the Broncos move forward in what they hope is a long stay in Las Vegas, Rice believes his team can keep up its hot shooting from Air Force.

“(Shooting momentum carries) because of the ones we took and the ones we got each other and the decisions we made to do that,” Rice said. “And that’s what we want to take down to the tournament.”

Michael Katz: 377-6444

MOUNTAIN WEST TOURNAMENT

At Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

FIRST ROUND

Wednesday’s games

Game 1: Utah St. 90, San Jose St. 64

Game 2: Air Force 83, Wyoming 68

Game 3: San Diego St. 62, UNLV 52

QUARTERFINALS

Thursday’s games

Game 4: No. 1 Nevada (25-6) vs. No. 8 Utah St. (12-19), 1 p.m. (CBSSN)

Game 5: No. 4 Fresno St. (19-11) vs. No. 5 New Mexico (17-13), 3:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

Game 6: No. 2 Colorado St. (21-10) vs. No. 10 Air Force (12-20), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)

Game 7: No. 3 Boise St. (19-10) vs. No. 6 San Diego St. (18-13), 9:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

SEMIFINALS

Friday’s games

Game 8: Winner 4 vs. Winner 5, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)

Game 9: Winner 6 vs. Winner 7: 10:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

FINAL

Saturday’s game

Game 10: Winner 8 vs. Winner 9, 4 p.m. (CBS)

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