Boise State Basketball

When the game turns to ‘chaos’ in closing seconds, the Broncos thrive

Senior forward Chris Sengfelder is averaging 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Boise State men’s basketball team this season.
Senior forward Chris Sengfelder is averaging 11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Boise State men’s basketball team this season. kjones@idahostatesman.com

It’s never a good idea to underestimate an opponent in the Mountain West Conference.

“Every game is going to be a battle,” Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice is fond of saying.

After defeating Utah State by just four points at home in January, Rice expects another close game in the Broncos’ rematch against the Aggies on Saturday (7 p.m., AT&T SportsNet/ROOT) in Logan, Utah.

But the prospect of another down-to-the-wire contest shouldn’t intimidate the Broncos.

Boise State (20-4 overall, 10-2 Mountain West) has won by two points in each of its past two games and is 6-1 this season in games decided by four points or fewer.

The Broncos had their biggest road comeback in nearly four years in Tuesday’s game at New Mexico, clawing back from as much as 13 down to top the Lobos 73-71.

“The chaos ensues at the end of games and kids forget to block out and kids watch the ball, but we have guys that have been through a lot of these already, and then you’ve got one of the best players in the league (Chandler Hutchison) that makes good decisions for us,” Rice said. “You can draw up all the plays. You can call timeouts, but that’s not what’s going to win it for you. What’s going to win it for you is having guys out there that can make those plays.”

Boise State scored eight unanswered points to close out the win over New Mexico, starting with a 3-pointer from senior Chris Sengfelder on an assist from Hutchison.

It’s all about trust, the Broncos say.

“That’s a big credit to Chandler. He’s our main guy, and he passed it up in that situation, so I was just trying to make that worth passing off,” Sengfelder said. “It just speaks of how we believe in each other. He has to believe in me that I was capable of knocking it down, and I was just happy it paid off.”

If the Broncos find themselves in another hole against the Aggies (13-12, 6-6) on Saturday, there won’t be any fear.

“We just believe in ourselves and we know that we were down in the past, so we know until there’s three zeros on the board, we have a chance to win the game,” Sengfelder said. “We just keep fighting. We just keep sticking together. We keep believing in ourselves. ... It doesn’t really matter what the score says, we just keep playing.”

Note: As of Friday morning, Boise State said it had 8,500 tickets out for Wednesday’s home game against Nevada. ... Sengfelder had the remnants of a black eye at interviews Friday. He said he sustained the injury when UNLV’s Brandon McCoy elbowed him in the left eye during their game Feb. 3.

Women: BSU hosts Utah State

The top five teams in the Mountain West standings receive first-round byes in the conference tournament, and the Broncos currently sit in the No. 5 spot heading into Saturday’s 2 p.m. game against Utah State at Taco Bell Arena.

Boise State (14-9, 8-4) split its games against first-place UNLV (14-8, 9-2 MW) and already has wins over No. 3 Colorado State (17-7, 9-4) and No. 4 Fresno State (14-10, 9-4). The Broncos will get a rematch with No. 2 Wyoming (15-7, 8-3) on March 2, which means they are still in the hunt for the regular-season title but need every win they can get — starting with the Aggies.

The Broncos defeated Utah State (5-18, 3-9) on Jan. 17 by a 64-42 score.

Note: The first 200 Bronco fans in Taco Bell Arena will receive a free pink Bronco T-shirt on Saturday.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts

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