Boise State Basketball

Boise State’s Hutchison earns national honors; Rice says crowd ‘made a difference’

Watch Boise State coach Leon Rice wade through the Boise River

Boise State men's basketball coach Leon Rice waded through the Boise River, true to his word, after fans sold out Taco Bell Arena for the Jan. 13, 2018, game against San Diego State. (Video courtesy of Boise State)
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Boise State men's basketball coach Leon Rice waded through the Boise River, true to his word, after fans sold out Taco Bell Arena for the Jan. 13, 2018, game against San Diego State. (Video courtesy of Boise State)

It might have felt like a dream, but Boise State senior Chandler Hutchison was happy to wake up Sunday morning and realize his record-setting performance Saturday night was indeed a reality.

“It wasn’t a dream lol!! Love my guys and my coaches, couldn’t be possible without them,” Hutchison wrote on Twitter. “And thank you Bronco Nation for an unforgettable night!”

Hutchison scored a school-record 44 points on Saturday at Taco Bell Arena against San Diego State, and he was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Three days after the fact, Boise State coach Leon Rice was still reveling in the moment.

“Watching it live, it kind of blew you away. It was pretty evident when the first media (timeout) came and he had all our points, and I think the second media (timeout) came and he still had all our points. It was impressive,” Rice said. “What was also impressive is he wasn’t just scoring. He was rebounding. He was guarding. He was bringing the ball up the floor against the press. He was doing everything, and that’s Chandler’s game. He is a versatile player who does a lot of things, not just score.”

Hutchison was nominated for the national award by being selected as the Mountain West men’s basketball player of the week.

He averaged 32.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists last week in wins at Fresno State and against San Diego State. Against the Aztecs, Hutchison scored the Broncos’ first 16 points and was 15-for-21 from the field (7-for-10 on 3-pointers).

Hutchison also was named player of the week by ESPN’s Dick Vitale, and as one of the top players of the week by the NCAA’s Andy Katz and CollegeSportsMadness.com.

At Fresno State, Hutchison became the first Bronco in 23 years to win a game on every conference opponent’s home court during his career. John Coker (1992-95) was the last Bronco to accomplish that feat.

The Broncos (15-3 overall, 5-1 Mountain West) return to action Wednesday night at Taco Bell Arena against Utah State (10-9, 3-3). The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Facebook through the Stadium network. A Boise State win would set up a showdown for first place in the Mountain West on Saturday at Nevada.

Rice salutes fans

The 10,874 fans who packed into sold-out Taco Bell Arena on Saturday not only witnessed Hutchison’s record-setting performance, but also helped change the game, according to Rice.

The Broncos’ 83-80 victory came down to the buzzer, and the home crowd made sure the Aztecs knew they were in hostile territory.

“Those fans, they didn’t show up just to watch us. They showed up to help us, and that made a difference,” Rice said. “I was telling everybody how good San Diego State was and that we were going to need every bit of it, and we did. It was right on, and it did affect the way that game was. It gave us energy and lifted us when we needed to be lifted.”

How about Rice’s hat?

If you watched the promotional video of Rice training for his Boise River crossing and the actual feat, you probably have a couple of lingering questions.

For starters, where did Rice get that hat he was wearing?

As it turns out, it wasn’t a prop. The furry black hat with ear flaps is part of Rice’s personal collection. He bought it in the Czech Republic.

And as for the temperature of the water in the training tub? It was 51 degrees, not warm as some viewers surmised.

“There lies my problem with the people that I work with,” Rice joked. “They could have gotten me in an 80-degree tub. No one would have ever been the wiser.”

Women: Broncos’ Lupfer honored

Boise State sophomore guard Riley Lupfer was named the Mountain West women’s basketball player of the week for the second time in three weeks.

The Spokane, Wash., native earned the latest weekly award with two game-changing performances as Boise State overcame a pair of seven-point halftime deficits to pick up wins over Fresno State (75-66) and San Diego State (86-70).

Lupfer averaged 27.0 points over the two wins, scoring 26 against the Bulldogs and matching her career high of 28 Saturday at San Diego State. She went a combined 13-for-21 (61.9 percent) from 3-point range, including a career high-tying seven against the Aztecs.

The Broncos (10-7, 4-2) play at Utah State (4-13, 2-4) at 7 p.m. Wednesday and return home to host Nevada at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts

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