Boise State Basketball

Deja vu: Boise State lacks ‘toughness,’ squanders another first-half lead in loss to Oregon

Boise State guard Justinian Jessup blocks a shot by Oregon forward Paul White in the first half Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.
Boise State guard Justinian Jessup blocks a shot by Oregon forward Paul White in the first half Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

The turnovers came like a waterfall, washing away Boise State’s halftime lead in a matter of minutes.

The Broncos committed six miscues in less than five minutes at the start of the second half, fueling Oregon’s 62-50 comeback victory in a nonconference men’s basketball game Saturday night at Taco Bell Arena.

Boise State led 24-21 at halftime and scored the first basket of the second half, but the Ducks went on a 13-2 run and outscored the Broncos 41-26 in the final 20 minutes to beat BSU for the second time in two weeks.

“We know where we’ve got to go if we want to be good in league,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said in a postgame press conference. “My answer, if we’re not going to be really skilled and can score a lot of points like we have in the past, well, we better be a heck of a lot tougher.”

Oregon redshirt senior guard Ehab Amin came off the bench for a game-leading 23 points, including 14 after halftime, and the Ducks held the Broncos without a field goal for a stretch of nearly five minutes at the start of the second half.

Amin accounted for four of the Ducks’ last six points over the final 1:25 of the game after Boise State junior guard Alex Hobbs missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with the Broncos down 56-50. The Broncos finished 14-for-20 from the free-throw line, but missed the front end of one-and-ones three times.

“Toughness is stepping up and making free throws,” Rice said. “These are Division I athletes. I’m not going to tip toe around it. ... Be tough enough to step up and make them. Little kids make them. It’s not that hard.”

Boise State committed a total of 19 turnovers — compared to just seven for the Ducks — to close out its nonconference schedule with a record of 5-8. The Broncos were 10-2 at this time last season.

“We’ve got to do better at being a tough team and being a team that is smart and can finish out those games and keep a lead,” Boise State senior David Wacker said. “Those are some of the things that we’re going to keep working on as a team.”

The Broncos missed their first six shots of the game and did not connect on a field goal until there was 10:16 left in the first half, when junior point guard Pat Dembley made a 3-pointer to pull the Broncos within 9-8. Despite that cold start, Oregon’s biggest lead of the first half was only four points, as the Broncos went 7-for-10 from the free-throw line.

Although the Ducks got off way more shots in the first half, they were a dismal 7-for-29 from the floor (24 percent), allowing BSU to grab the lead. Boise State was 7-for-18 from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Dembley paced Boise State with 13 points and was the only Bronco to reach double figures. Justinian Jessup added nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. Hobbs, Derrick Alston and RJ Williams chipped in six points apiece.

“It goes back to our mental toughness, and if we don’t get tougher, we’re not going to be good,” Rice said. “If we do, we’ve got a chance to be really good. Simple.”

On Dec. 15, the Ducks (9-4) rallied for a 66-54 victory over the Broncos at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon, after trailing by four points at the half. The two teams are scheduled to play again next season at Oregon.

The Ducks now lead the all-time series 8-2.

Boise State begins Mountain West Conference play on Wednesday at Wyoming. The Broncos and Cowboys split their meetings last season, with each team winning on its home court.

Wednesday’s game tips off at 7 p.m. at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie and will be streamed live online on Stadium College Basketball’s Facebook page. The game also is available on the radio on 670 AM.

Notes: Oregon faced the Broncos without freshman center Bol Bol, sophomore forward Kenny Wooten and sophomore forward Abu Kigab, who are all out with injuries. The trio averages a combined 30.2 points, 17.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game. ... NBA scouts from the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers were on hand for Saturday’s game in Boise.

OREGON 62, BOISE STATE 50

OREGON (9-4)

Ehab Amin 8-13 5-6 23; Paul White 5-11 2-2 13; Louis King 3-11 2-2 9; Victor Bailey Jr. 4-9 0-0 9; Payton Pritchard 1-10 0-0 3; Will Richardson 1-2 0-1 3; Miles Norris 1-3 0-0 2; Francis Okoro 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 9-11 62.

BOISE STATE (5-8)

Pat Dembley 5-9 0-0 13; Justinian Jessup 2-8 3-4 9; Alex Hobbs 3-11 0-1 6; RJ Williams 2-3 2-3 6; Derrick Alston 1-3 4-6 6; Marcus Dickinson 1-4 2-2 5; Zach Haney 1-4 2-2 4; David Wacker 0-0 1-2 1; Malek Harwell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-42 14-20 50.

Oregon........................ 21 41 — 62

Boise State................... 24 26 — 50

3-point goals — Oregon 7-24 (Amin 2-4; Richardson 1-1; Pritchard 1-7; Bailey Jr. 1-4; King 1-4; White 1-3; Norris 0-1), Boise State 6-21 (Dembley 3-5; Jessup 2-6; Dickinson 1-2; Alston 0-2; Haney 0-2; Williams 0-1; Hobbs 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds —Oregon 31 (Okoro 6; Amin 6), Boise State 33 (Jessup 8). Assists — Oregon 9 (Pritchard 5), Boise State 6 (Jessup 3). Total fouls — Oregon 18, Boise State 16. Technical fouls — None. A — 7,563.

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