Two Boise State men’s basketball players did not make the trip to Texas to play in their season opener, including projected starter Emmanuel Akot. While Boise State announced that no players tested positive, the players could have been held out due to contract tracing.
The Broncos went on to lose the game against the no. 17 Houston Cougars 68-58.The lineup for the Broncos to start the season was RayJ Dennis, Marcus Shaver Jr., Derrick Alston Jr., Abu Kigab and Mladen Armus. Shaver and Armus were both Boise State debut players.
Junior guard Devonaire Doutrive will not be eligible until the spring semester and was the other player to not travel with the team to Texas.
“Houston was what I expected,” said Head Coach Leon Rice. “I said that before. They’re 17th ranked for a reason and might be better than that, especially early because of the way they play. Man, they get into you, and they are physical defensively. They were the best rebounding team in the country and absolutely handed us our hats on the glass. Part of that number wise though is the way we shot the ball. When you miss that many shots they’re going to get a lot more rebounds because there’s a lot more to be had. That was probably the biggest thing.
The Broncos trailed 34-19 at halftime. Houston extended the lead to 52-32 with 9:37 left in the game. The Broncos went on an 18-5 run to cut the lead down to seven (57-50) with 3:25 to play.
Sophomore guard RayJ Dennis was the Broncos’ high scorer of the night with 18 points followed behind junior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. with 16 points.
“Definitely a confidence booster for sure just to kind of show me that the work works, like the hard work is paying off for me individually,” Dennis said. “We’re gonna be a good team this year is also what I think. But also I’m way more comfortable than freshman year, and I feel like myself again a little bit.”
Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year and NBA prospect Derrick Alston Jr. went scoreless on the night despite playing 32 minutes.
“We missed some shots early like a couple lay-ins and a boatload of free throws, and if you could have just kept that thing under 10 at halftime, then when you make your run, then you’re in it, then you’ve got a chance and we just dug ourselves [into] too big of a hole. We just have to be able to do that, fix some of the things that we saw that we didn’t do well, and we’ve got to fix them in a hurry because we play again in less than 48 hours.”
Boise State’s Texas road trip continues Nov. 29, against Sam Houston State.