Red Hot Broncos: Boise State men’s basketball reaches nine-game winning streak

forward Tyson degenhart
Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics

The Boise State men’s basketball team beat Oakland University 77-57 on Dec. 18, making it their ninth straight win on the season. 

The Broncos are now 10-2 on the season with 19 more regular season games left in their schedule.

The team’s progression over the first half of the season is evident. 

Though the Broncos are sitting in fourth place in the Mountain West Conference, the team has been surpassing expectations for their season. 

Boise State has the best scoring offense in the Mountain West Conference and currently ranks ninth overall in NCAA Division I men’s basketball scoring defense, allowing an average of 57.1 points per game from its opponents. 

“Our whole focus is defense,” said fifth-year center Lukas Milner. “Defense wins championships.”

The Broncos are also averaging 71.7 points per game

As the team sets up to open the Mountain West Conference competition against Nevada on Dec. 28, the overall team growth is essential.

“You know, I think if you’re comparing it to last year, I think we’re way farther along this year than we were last year, and you kind of saw how we got better last year over time,”  Boise State guard Max Rice said. “By the time we got to conference, I think that’s when we reached about our peak, around that time. I still think there’s a lot of gelling we can do. We can learn with these games coming up, and by the time we get to conference, I think we’ll know our roles even better.”

“It’s exciting,” said sophomore forward Tyson Degenhart in regards to starting conference play. “We really came around during this time last year, and it carried over to conference play. We are excited for the upcoming challenges.”

With shining new stars such as Max Rice, Kobe Young and Sadraque NgaNga, the Broncos have come into their own these last few games. 

The Broncos throttled New Orleans 91-50 on Dec. 13 with the help of Young after he registered a career-high 16 points and 5-8 from the field. 

Against Eastern Oregon, true freshman Sadaraque NgaNga had his best game in terms of points (13), rebounds (six) and minutes played (19).

Max Rice has also had phenomenal success on the court despite his previously lackluster seasons.

forward Tyson degenhart
[Photo of sophomore forward Tyson Degenhart.]
Photo courtesy of Boise State Athletics

“The key to this team is the development of the bench,” head coach Leon Rice said after the win over New Orleans.

With more players breaking out of their shells, the competition for starting positions has begun. 

“I now have competition at the five,” Leon Rice said. “It’s great because it will make them better.”

During the beginning of the season, Milner was the starting center for the Broncos, and with more players showing growth, the sixth-year senior is now coming off the bench. 

“I don’t mind,” Milner said after being asked about losing his starting spot. “As long as we win, I have zero complaints.”

Boise State is currently led by Marcus Shaver Jr. with 14.8 points per game, followed by Tyson Degenhart at 13.1 and Max Rice at 12.5. Shaver Jr. is also good for 7.4 rebounds per game through 11 contests. 

Despite Shaver’s offensive absence against Oakland University and New Orleans, the team went on to win both games each by 20 points or more. 

The Broncos will take on San Jose State on Jan. 3 to open up home conference play.

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