Derrick Alston came to Boise State as a 6-foot-8, 153-pound walk-on in 2016.
On Saturday night, he scored a career-high 30 points off the bench to carry the Broncos to an 88-64 victory over San Diego State in a Mountain West Conference matchup at Taco Bell Arena.
It is only the 55th 30-plus point outing in program history and comes a year after Alston played a total of 26 minutes in 11 games.
“We’ve always seen the upside and the skill,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said of Alston in a postgame press conference.
“But now he stepped up and he was a tough competitor tonight all night long and he battled. He’s got such a good feel for the game that in that high post he’s just a killer. You get the ball to him there and really good things happen.”
Alston, a redshirt sophomore, had 14 points in the first half as Boise State built a 46-25 lead. San Diego State then went on a 12-2 run to start the second half to bring the deficit to 48-37. But that 11-point margin was as close as the Aztecs would get the rest of the way. Alston responded by scoring 12 of Boise State’s next 14 points.
He finished 9-for-14 from the field and 10-for-12 from the free-throw line with NBA scouts from the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers in attendance. Alston’s previous career-best was 22 points against St. Bonaventure on Nov. 20, 2018, at the Cayman Islands Classic.
Alston also recorded career highs for made field goals (9), field-goal attempts (14), made free throws (10) and free-throw attempts (12) in 29 minutes of play.
“I don’t think it’s really set in,” Alston said. “It was a lot of fun. My teammates are just giving me spots where I can be aggressive. They’re always telling me to be aggressive. I was just going out there and letting it rip.”
Alston’s father, who is also named Derrick, was the No. 33 overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1994 NBA Draft. There’s no telling if the younger Alston will be able to follow in his dad’s footsteps, but it is clear he’s a vastly different player from just a year ago.
“Man, I couldn’t be happier for him. That’s my roommate. That’s my guy,” Boise State junior Alex Hobbs said. “... Just the work that he’s put in since he got here. We’ve seen him put on weight. We’ve seen him in the gym shooting, and tonight he just came out here and let it rip and he was huge for us. Big-time performance from him.”
Boise State (7-8, 2-0 MW) and San Diego State (8-6, 0-1) have played 18 times, and the Broncos’ 24-point win Saturday is the largest margin of victory for either team. The Aztecs lead the all-time series 11-7.
A crowd of 5,425 saw arguably Boise State’s most complete game of the season. The Broncos shot 56.9 percent from the floor and scored a season-high 88 points to earn back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.
“Our system and our program is about offense, so you felt like it could come, but our mentality is let’s go win it with our defense,” Rice said. “... That’s the bonus when the offense starts clicking like it did. That’s the Boise State formula right there. That’s what you want — both ends going so well.”
San Diego State had three players foul out — Jalen McDaniels, Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel — and Boise State senior David Wacker chipped a tooth when he collided with an SDSU player in the second half.
“It’s kind of turned into a rivalry. Like I mentioned earlier in the week, San Diego State’s always been at the top of the league, and as of late so are we,” said Hobbs, who had 18 points and five boards. “... Every time we play them, it’s going to be a battle.”
Boise State has the first of its two conference byes on Wednesday, then the Broncos travel to San Jose State for a 1 p.m. MT tipoff on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Event Center. Boise State leads the series with SJSU 30-3, giving them a good chance of improving to 3-0 in league play.
“I felt like a fan in the fact that how awesome is this team to watch? They’ve just gotten better and better and better,” Rice said. “They keep improving and they’re playing together. And boy, they’re scrappy and tough.
“Guys are getting teeth knocked out and they stay out there. A lot to be proud of with our team right now, and the best thing about them is we know we can keep getting better.”
Broncos to add Oregon transfer
Oregon sophomore forward Abu Kigab plans to transfer to Boise State, multiple sources told the Idaho Statesman on Saturday.
Kigab, who attended Boise State’s win over San Diego State, announced Wednesday that he was leaving the Ducks. He was averaging 2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 15 minutes per game off the bench but had missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
“I was disappointed Abu made the decision to leave,” Oregon coach Dana Altman told DuckTerritory.com earlier this week.
Kigab, who was born in Khartoum, Sudan, played at Prolific Prep Academy in Napa, California, and was a four-star recruit, according ESPN.com. Before he moved to California, Kigab played at St. Francis Phoenix in St. Catharines, Ontario.
The 6-foot-7, 215-pounder made Team Canada’s 12-man roster for the 2017 U-19 World Cup, and he helped Canada win its first ever FIBA U-19 World Cup gold medal by averaging 14.7 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
Kigab will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Broncos, but he will have to sit out a year, per NCAA transfer rules. If he transfers immediately, he could become eligible to play around this time for the 2019-20 season.
Boise State and Oregon played twice this season, with the Ducks winning both games. The two teams are scheduled to play one game next season in Eugene.
BOISE STATE 88, SAN DIEGO STATE 64
SAN DIEGO STATE (8-6)
Devin Watson 7-14 8-10 24; Jalen McDaniels 6-13 2-2 14; Jordan Schakel 2-6 3-4 8; Matt Mitchell 3-5 0-0 6; Joel Mensah 1-1 2-2 4; Nathan Mensah 2-5 0-0 4; Jeremy Hemsley 1-6 2-4 4; Adam Seiko 0-1 0-0 0; Nolan Narain 0-0 0-0 0; Ed Chang 0-1 0-0 0; Aguek Arop 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 17-22 64.
BOISE STATE (7-8)
ALSTON, Derrick 9-14 10-12 30; HOBBS, Alex 7-12 3-3 18; JESSUP, Justinian 3-9 0-0 9; DICKINSON, Marcus 4-4 0-0 9; WACKER, David 2-2 3-3 7; HANEY, Zach 2-4 2-2 6; WILLIAMS, RJ 1-2 4-7 6; DEMBLEY, Pat 1-4 0-1 3; HARWELL, Malek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-51 22-28 88.
San Diego St.................. 25 39 — 64
Boise State................... 46 42 — 88
3-point goals — San Diego St. 3-21 (Devin Watson 2-7; Jordan Schakel 1-5; Matt Mitchell 0-1; Jeremy Hemsley 0-3; Adam Seiko 0-1; Ed Chang 0-1; Aguek Arop 0-1; Jalen McDaniels 0-2), Boise State 8-22 (JESSUP, Justinian 3-7; ALSTON, Derrick 2-5; HOBBS, Alex 1-5; DEMBLEY, Pat 1-3; DICKINSON, Marcus 1-1; HANEY, Zach 0-1). Fouled out — San Diego St.-Matt Mitchell; Jordan Schakel; Jalen McDaniels, Boise State-None. Rebounds — San Diego St. 25 (Jalen McDaniels 5), Boise State 33 (JESSUP, Justinian 8). Assists — San Diego St. 10 (Devin Watson 3), Boise State 13 (JESSUP, Justinian 5). Total fouls — San Diego St. 25, Boise State 17. Technical fouls — San Diego St.-Matt Mitchell, Boise State-None. A — 5,425.