With a double-digit lead and a double-double in hand, Chandler Hutchison made a head-first dive into his own bench after a loose ball.
It was a body-sacrificing move the 6-foot-7 Boise State senior didn’t have to make, but there’s only one way he knows how to play — all out.
Hutchison took over the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas with a game-high 32 points and 12 rebounds Saturday night as the Broncos dismantled UNLV in the second half for an 83-74 victory.
“Wow. It was impressive tonight, because he played 37 minutes in a high-possession game. He ran a long ways,” Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice said. “He made some big shots, made some great plays, big defensive plays, great rebounds. He did it all and showed he’s one of the best players in the Mountain West, no doubt about it.”
Hutchison finished two points shy of his career high, shooting 13-for-18 from the floor, 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 3-for-4 from the line.
“I’ve got these guys, they look up to me, so I need to try to set the example every night. That’s what I tried to do tonight,” Hutchison said. “... They looked to me in this situation today, and I just tried to give it everything I had here.”
In a contest against two of the conference’s toughest big men — 7-foot freshman Brandon McCoy and 6-7 junior Shakur Juiston — the Broncos (12-2, 2-0 Mountain West) more than held their own inside, outrebounding the Rebels 48-29 and scoring 50 points in the paint.
It was only the third time this season the Rebels (11-3, 0-1) have been outrebounded and the first time by double figures. UNLV entered the game as the only team in the country with two players who ranked among the top 10 in rebounding (Juiston 11.0, McCoy 10.9), and the Rebels were averaging a league-best 91.2 points per game.
“I thought our big guys did a terrific job, because that was the line of scrimmage that we had to win,” Rice said. “They did a great job of battling in there. Those guys, you’re not going to shut them out, you’re not going to keep them off completely, but we just had to keep throwing fresh bodies at them and keep battling, and that’s what we did.”
Junior forward Zach Haney had the biggest night of his Boise State career, posting his first double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Junior Robin Jorch chipped in seven points and three rebounds to spell Haney.
“It was kind of the same old game plan, just come out and fight,” Haney said. “We knew that they had two really good bigs, and they were going to have probably big nights. They’re good players, so just come out and fight extra and try to beat them on the boards, like our goal always is.”
UNLV led 37-35 at halftime, but Boise State took control over a seven-minute stretch at the start of the second half to turn a 43-37 deficit into a 57-45 lead.
The Broncos held the Rebels without a field goal during the 20-2 run.
“You didn’t know when it would come, but we felt like, boy, we were scrapping, we were hustling and we were making some good defensive plays, which led to some good offense,” Rice said. “We’ve got some tough guys, and they just kept battling and battling. That’s how we broke through the barrier when it was kind of an even game.”
BOISE ST. 83, UNLV 74
BOISE ST. (12-2): Sengfelder 4-8 0-0 9, Haney 5-11 1-2 11, Williams 2-4 0-0 4, Hutchison 13-18 3-4 32, Jessup 2-6 3-6 8, Wacker 0-0 0-0 0, Jorch 3-4 1-2 7, Dickinson 1-4 4-5 6, Hobbs 3-10 0-0 6. Totals 33-65 12-19 83.
UNLV (11-3): McCoy 7-9 2-5 16, Juiston 10-14 5-7 25, Johnson 6-16 5-8 20, Clyburn 1-7 0-0 3, Mooring 2-14 2-2 8, Beck 1-3 0-0 2, Mbacke Diong 0-0 0-0 0, Hardy 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 27-67 14-22 74.
Halftime—UNLV 37-35. 3-Point Goals—Boise St. 5-13 (Hutchison 3-3, Jessup 1-2, Sengfelder 1-3, Williams 0-1, Hobbs 0-1, Haney 0-1, Dickinson 0-2), UNLV 6-22 (Johnson 3-7, Mooring 2-9, Clyburn 1-4, Hardy 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Boise St. 43 (Hutchison 12), UNLV 27 (McCoy 10). Assists—Boise St. 13 (Jessup 5), UNLV 16 (Johnson 6). Total Fouls—Boise St. 22, UNLV 16. Technicals—McCoy. A—11,892 (18,776).