Boise State Basketball

NIT’s biggest rule change will affect Boise State’s favorite plan of attack

Boise State’s 3-point barrage

The Boise State men’s basketball team beat San Jose State with a barrage of 3-pointers.
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The Boise State men’s basketball team beat San Jose State with a barrage of 3-pointers.

NIT rules call for the 3-point line to be extended 20 inches when the Boise State men’s basketball team opens tournament play at 8 p.m. MT Wednesday against Washington (20-12) at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

The Broncos (23-8) like to stretch defenses with their 3-point prowess, and already have proven to be the most prolific team in program history behind the arc.

Boise State’s 299 made 3-pointers in 2017-18 set a new single-season school record, surpassing the 297 from the 2014-15 season. While the increased distance to the basket could lead to a lower-percentage shot, it also could lead to more open looks for the Broncos.

Sophomore guard Justinian Jessup is approaching Boise State’s individual single-season school record for 3-pointers made. Jessup has 87 triples going into Wednesday’s game, five behind Abe Jackson’s record 92 from the 2001-02 season.

Coach Leon Rice’s biggest concern is making sure his players are aware of where they are on the court. He said he planned to tape a new 3-point line down during practices leading up to the game.

“You don’t want to be making a bunch of 19-footers,” Rice said. “The worst shot in basketball now became farther back, so we have to adjust to that, and we will.”

Broncos on verge of ‘death’?

This year’s Broncos already have made it well-known they enjoy playing together and want to extend their season as long as possible, but Rice took it to another level earlier this week.

“Death has a way of making you appreciate things more. The gravely ill find a lot of great things about life, and that’s where you are at this time of the season, whether you’re in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT,” Rice said. “You’re 40 minutes away from never playing together again. This team wants to keep playing together, so they’re going to give it all they have.”

Wednesday’s game at Washington could be the final game in a Boise State uniform for seniors Chandler Hutchison, Chris Sengfelder and Lexus Williams.

“We know how precious these games are and we know how much we like to play with each other and love each other,” Hutchison said. “There’s no kind of feeling that we’re not going to attack this 100 percent and try to go win some games and get to Madison Square Garden.”

Hutchison calls Utah State loss ‘tough’

The Broncos put the ball in Hutchison’s hands with their Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal game and NCAA Tournament hopes on the line against Utah State last week.

Hutchison finished 0-for-2 from the field and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity in the final minute of an eventual 78-75 loss to the Aggies.

He talked with the media for the first time about that loss Monday.

“To be able to be in the position time after time, to have the ball in your hands and either make or miss the game-winner or whatever it may be, it says a lot about the trust the coaches put in you,” Hutchison said. “... It’s really nice when the ball goes in and, when it doesn’t, you’ve got to just deal with it, take what you can, learn from it and try to make yourself better.”

Hutchison said sitting out the majority of the first half with foul trouble affected his rhythm, but he didn’t want that to be an excuse.

“The ball didn’t go the way that I wanted and the way that it has. It’s tough,” he said. “You can’t just base the whole season on one game — although it feels like you want to sometimes. It makes things a lot better that we have a huge opportunity coming up for us this week (in the NIT).”

Note: Hutchison was named a National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 17 First Team selection for the second year in a row Tuesday. He is the first two-time honoree in program history. ... The other NIT rule changes include: The lane will be widened 4 feet to NBA regulation; games will be played in four 10-minute quarters; teams will shoot free throws after the fifth foul of each quarter; and the shot clock resets to 20 seconds after offensive rebounds.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts