The Boise State men’s basketball team has pieced together one of their best starts in team history. With their most recent win against Wyoming, the team tied the program record with 12 consecutive wins.
The team has stayed relatively healthy through the first half of the season. By avoiding serious injuries and COVID-19, they have stayed at full strength for most of the season. Currently, the team is not ranked in the AP top 25, but have received eight votes to be ranked.
Emphasis on defense and hustle has been a large contributor to the team’s success. The Broncos are ranked no. 21 in the nation in scoring defense.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good defensive team,” said Head Coach Leon Rice, after holding Air Force to 128 points in two games. “We’re long, we’re hard to score over, and we get a lot of deflections and get our hands on a lot of balls. We’re only going to get better at that.”
Derrick Alston Jr., the team’s leading scorer, says he believes focus on defense has been the catalyst for the team’s success on offense.
“I think it’s taking more pride in our defense,” Alston said. “I think we just really put a lot more of our energy into the defensive end and [we] knew that it could help our offense as well too, and that’s exactly what it did.”
Forward Abu Kigab is averaging six rebounds and 1.7 steals a game and believes that hustle plays have been what set Boise State aside for the rest.
“I love the hustle plays,” Kigab said. “Games are really won on the defensive end and rebounding. You can see the stats, and they’ll back that up. Those plays just win games and I love to win. I’m a winner and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to win for my team. Coach does a great job with us, and I think we’re gonna just continue to get better and have that growth mindset.”
The Broncos have not played many close games this season, with only four of them being decided by 10 points or less. The team’s only loss came from one of the close games they had where they lost to no. 8 University of Houston.
The season opener was the only time the Broncos have played or are scheduled to play an AP top 25 team this season.
After scoring over 100-points on New Years Eve, Rice shared at what point in the season he felt the team began to find its identity.
“These guys are amazing, there’s no human nature, there are no bad minutes because of the score,” Rice said. “We’re playing it possession by possession and man do we, we do our job. Our defense is cumulative and it’s hard when every trip down the floor is going to be hard for you, and we take a lot of pride in that and that’s what gets fun. We can score in waves from [Marcus] Shaver and Max [Rice] and all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, the lead grows quickly and I think that’s kind of who we’re becoming.”
Boise State has 12 games left on its schedule — all against Mountain West opponents. With no Mountain West champion tournament, the Broncos control their own density en route to the trophy.