Mountain West Showdown: Boise State Basketball hosts No. 18 Utah State

Photo by Niamh Brennan

Boise State men’s basketball has been tested the last couple of weeks to say the least. They’ve gone 4-1, notably beating No. 24 Colorado State University (15-3), the University of Nevada, Reno (15-4) and San Diego State University (16-4) and Fresno State University (8-10).

Even so, it doesn’t get any easier this Saturday as they welcome No. 18 Utah State University to ExtraMile Arena.

The last time the two schools met, the Aggies routed the Broncos 72-62, knocking them out of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

This time around, the Broncos are looking hot as they are coming off an impressive win at home against rival San Diego State and a road win against Fresno State, where they posted the largest halftime lead in any Mountain West game this year.

With that said, it was a shaky ending as Boise State was outscored in the second half 30-36 but still closed the game out 72-68. It’s also worth noting that Utah State’s most recent game was also against the Bulldogs, where the Aggies properly stomped them 83-62.

Both schools are strong, but this is really Utah State’s game to lose. The Aggies are 17-2 (5-1 MWC) to Boise State’s 14-5 (5-1 MWC) record, and a Bronco victory would place the team at the top of the Mountain West.

Utah State’s team has been putting up big numbers so far this season, so both the Bronco offense and defense will have to rise to the occasion. 

Both schools have beaten a strong Colorado State team, however Boise State is more battle tested at this point in the season. 

Three of their last five Mountain West wins came from the bottom four teams in the conference who tote a combined record of 24-30.

Utah State’s best quality win this year has only been against the Rams, and their one loss in conference play came from an away game at New Mexico where they were outscored by 13 points. 

Nevertheless, when Utah State wins, they win big. Their average margin of victory this season has been 10.9 points, and most recently blowing out Fresno State by 21 points.

Boise State’s key to victory on Saturday will be finding a way to shut down junior forward Great Osobor, but that very well may be their biggest challenge of the year. 

In the MWC he ranks second in scoring, averaging 18.7 points per game. On defense, there’s no better rebounder in the conference as he averages a staggering 9.7 boards per game.

In the average points per game column, Osobor is followed by senior guard Ian Martinez and freshman guard Mason Falslev who average 13.6 and 11.6 points respectively. 

On the Blue and Orange’s side, Tyson Degenhart has been the star on the court, averaging 15.1 points per game. He’s also followed by a rapidly developing O’mar Stanley who sophomore point guard Roddie Anderson III has dubbed as “the best player in the conference.”

Stanley has had a great season so far, especially since conference play has started.

Since the opening of conference play, he’s averaged 9.1 rebounds and 15.5 points per game. On top of that, hasn’t missed from three in two games, sinking 5-5.

“I feel like that’s always in the bag,” Stanley said after the SDSU game. “I’m more of a team player … I’m not really worried about scoring. I’ve been getting double teamed a lot, I haven’t been able to really get into paint like I’ve been wanting to … I’ve been working on that shot since I’ve been here so it’s not really anything new.”

Senior guard Chibuzo Agbo has also been rolling from downtown. After the Fresno State game, he extended his three point streak to 13 straight games, and has multiple in 11 of the last 19 games.

There’s a lot riding on this game no matter how you look at it.

Currently there’s three teams boasting a Mountain West banner in the AP Top 25. Utah State has been there the longest this season, ranging from No. 20 to No. 16. Currently, Colorado State and New Mexico hold the No. 24 and No. 25 positions respectively.

As of week 12, the Broncos have nine votes towards being on this list. A win this week and then possibly another against New Mexico at their home stadium would almost certainly grant the Broncos their first appearance in the top 25 since the 2021-2022 season.

Boise State is playing at home where their record this season is 9-1 thanks to fans packing the house, especially for big games. 

This advantage may be canceled out however, as Utah State will have had seven days off since their last game to prepare for the Broncos.

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