Boise State Basketball

Boise State men’s hoops faces 7-0 foe on Tuesday; Hutchison improving

Boise State’s Cam Christon (1) and Chris Sengfelder (43) fight for a rebound with Loyola Marymount forward Donald Gipson in the second half Saturday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.
Boise State’s Cam Christon (1) and Chris Sengfelder (43) fight for a rebound with Loyola Marymount forward Donald Gipson in the second half Saturday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.


Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Chandler Hutchison was set to practice Monday and there’s a chance he could play Tuesday night, Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice said Monday.

Hutchison missed a game Saturday while in concussion protocol. He hit his head hard on the floor early in the previous game against Iowa State.

“Things are looking good,” Rice said.

Loyola (Chicago) brings a 7-0 record to Taco Bell Arena for the 7 p.m. game. Loyola is one of the top teams in the Missouri Valley Conference.

“They’re just a really well-schooled team that knows how to play together, and they’re fun to watch,” Rice said.

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The Boise State men’s basketball team switched from baffling drought to epic romp in a flash Saturday night at Taco Bell Arena on its way to a 68-48 victory against Loyola Marymount.

The Broncos squandered an 11-point lead late in the first half and fell behind 40-34 early in the second half. They had missed four straight shots, including one that was stuffed by a defender and another that was a desperate heave at the shot-clock buzzer.

They couldn’t find an open shot, and they couldn’t hit the shots they were taking.

“We had to play defense to compete,” sophomore Marcus Dickinson said. “Our defense had to get us going. I missed a couple shots in the first half and kind of got down on myself. My teammates and coaches told me to keep on shooting.”

Dickinson, who made a 3-pointer earlier in the half, broke the slump with back-to-back 3-pointers just 29 seconds apart to tie the score at 40. That sparked a scoring run of 14-0 that eventually stretched to 22-2 and 33-4.

Coach Leon Rice said his players let their shooting woes affect their energy.

“We can take some body blows, body blows, and then all of a sudden we just explode,” Rice said. “It’s all about the quality shots we’re getting. If we’re getting good shots, it’s going to even out. We can’t get affected by that. We have to play harder and play through it.”

The Broncos (5-1) did that Saturday with defense and rebounding in their first game since losing the Puerto Rico Tip-Off final last weekend. Loyola Marymount (3-2) shot 31.6 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from 3-point range. The Broncos outrebounded the Lions 48-24 and limited the nation’s most efficient offensive rebounding team to three second chances.

Zach Haney and Chris Sengfelder finished with four points and 10 rebounds each.

“Neither of them were making any shots tonight, but they got 20 boards and they absolutely nullified Loyola’s offensive rebounding,” Rice said. “... That’s the most impressive thing about the squad we’ve got is you challenge them on something, they go out and do it. That was the challenge tonight.”

The Broncos played without star Chandler Hutchison, who continues to recover from a head injury sustained Nov. 19 in the Iowa State game. Hutchison was placed in a concussion protocol after hitting his head on the floor.

“It’s going well,” Rice said. “It’s just something that you don’t rush.”

Sophomore Justinian Jessup, a starter last year who has moved to the bench this season, replaced Hutchison in the lineup. Jessup was 3-for-8 on 3-pointers and scored a game-high 22 points.

“Chandler is a big dude for us,” Jessup said. “He gets a lot of shots, a lot of rebounds. I tried to fill that void tonight. I tried to play as hard as I can.”

The Broncos will be back at Taco Bell Arena at 7 p.m. Tuesday to face Loyola of Chicago, a 7-0 team that is expected to contend for the Missouri Valley Conference title. The Ramblers hammered Kent State 75-60 on Saturday.