Boise State coach Leon Rice, pre-Wyoming
After Boise State’s 94-69 win over San Jose State on Wednesday, freshman Paris Austin was asked about his recent improvements.
Following his response, unprompted, junior forward Nick Duncan said, “I’ve seen him in the gym a lot. Ee’s really been working hard. I think that’s a credit to yourself.”
Austin has 20 points in the past three games, including 11 against the Spartans, his most against a Division I team this season. He also added two assists without a turnover in 20 minutes.
The highly-touted point guard came in confident, but has faced some growing pains, logging fewer than 10 minutes in seven games. He has earned more time lately, playing 51 minutes during the three-game stretch.
“Just going every day in practice playing harder and harder, so when it comes to game time, it’s just second nature,” Austin said. “I’ve just been trying to play more aggressive ... under control. Just picking my shots, attacking so I can try and get my teammates more involved.”
Coach Leon Rice has said freshmen stop being freshmen once league play rolls around, and Austin has exemplified that. As a quick point guard able to score, he’s a big part of the future.
“This year’s important for his maturation, because next year, the car keys are handed to him,” Rice said. “He’s got to be ready to drive.”
Duncan said Austin holds himself to a high standard, so at times he can get frustrated with those growing pains, but Duncan has appreciated the newcomer’s approach to improving.
“He’s got to take some credit out of it and at least be happy for 5 minutes that he had a great game, but at the same time get back out there and keep working,” Duncan said. “He’s got so much potential as a player, and he’s just finding a little bit of what he can do for this team.”
WYOMING STAR SUSPENDED
Senior guard Josh Adams has been suspended for Saturday’s game against Boise State, the Mountain West announced Friday.
Citing “accumulated violations of Mountain West Rule 4 — Sportsmanship,” Adams was given a one-game suspension hours after Wyoming said he would play, but not start. Adams has three technicals this season.
He leads the team and Mountain West — and is fifth nationally — with 24.6 points per game and is tops at Wyoming with 5.7 rebounds per game, 71 assists and 23 steals.
A LOOK AT THE COWBOYS
After graduating a strong senior class that included Larry Nance Jr., Derek Cooke Jr. and Riley Grabau, Wyoming was left with a young team. Adams is the only senior, and 12 freshmen and sophomores dot the roster. Now without Adams, the team facing the Broncos is even more unknown.
Wyoming was the only MW team Boise State didn’t beat last season, losing on the road and in the conference tournament semifinals.
The Cowboys will look to shoot outside. They are 30th nationally in 3-pointers attempted (483) and 34th in 3-pointers made (172). There is some length on the team, but it is young and raw. The Cowboys are 331st in the nation at minus-7.1 rebounds per game.
Rice said playing at 7,220 feet elevation in Laramie, “it can mess with your mind.” After last season’s 65-54 loss at Wyoming, Rice and the team said it had an effect. In the past, he put a carpet dryer in the gym and told the team it was an “altitude machine” to get over the mental hurdle.
“We’re not on the top of Mount Everest ... but there’s an adjustment, especially at the start. Got to break through that,” Rice said.
ALFORD WAITS IN ON-DECK CIRCLE
Senior guard Montigo Alford has been a pinch-hitter for the Broncos, not sure when his time will come with Austin’s ascent and senior Mikey Thompson’s consistency. Alford has 19 points in his past seven games. He was solid in 17 minutes against San Jose State with seven points, four assists and two turnovers.
“What I’ve seen out of him is a tremendous attitude,” Rice said. “Sometimes guys don’t get all the minutes they deserve. ... Credit to this kid, he just keeps battling, doesn’t drop his head and doesn’t feel sorry for himself. I think he’s going make a good run for us down the stretch.”
BOISE STATE MEN (14-5, 5-1 MW) AT WYOMING (10-10, 3-4)
- When: 2 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Lawlor Events Center (11,612), Laramie, Wyo.
- TV: ESPN3
- Radio: 670 AM/93.1 FM
Boise State women host Wyoming on Saturday
- When: 2 p.m.
- Where: Taco Bell Arena
- Radio: 1350 KTIK AM
- Records: Boise State 11-6, 4-2 Mountain West; Wyoming 10-7, 3-4
- Tickets: $6 (adults), $4 (seniors/youth)
- Notes: Boise State senior center Miquelle Askew is coming off a school-record 39 points (with 13 rebounds) in Wednesday’s 78-75 win at San Jose State. Sophomore Forward Shalen Shaw had 21 points and 12 rebounds. ... The Cowgirls hold foes to 27.9 percent shooting from 3-point range. ... BSU junior guard Brooke Pahukoa is fourth nationally in 3-point percentage (48.3). ... Wyoming is led by Mountain West preseason player of the year Marquelle Dent, who is third in the league with 18.2 points per game and tops with 5.6 assists per game.