The Boise State men’s basketball team won two of their last three out-of-conference games. Boise State played Sacramento State, Grand Canyon University (GCU) and Southern Methodist University (SMU).
Boise State defeated Sacramento State 77-54 on Dec. 9. The Broncos controlled most of the game and led in almost every single statistical category. Boise State hit 13 3-point shots during the game.
Sophomore guard Justinian Jessup hit five 3-pointers on just six attempted. Senior guard Chandler Hutchison recorded another double-double when he scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The team shot 43.3 percent from 3-point range.
“When we shoot, we’re always taught to throw the extra (pass),” said sophomore guard Marcus Dickinson. “Shoot the great shot, turn down the good shot.”
Hutchison stressed how they are trying to enjoy the moment and not look too far ahead on the schedule.
“It’s hard not to just get caught up in the grind and not realize that we’re executing really well and doing what we want to do,” Hutchison said. “Were doing so well that everyone is like ‘next game, next game’ that we don’t really get to sit back and enjoy everything we’re doing and the success we’re having, so that’s what we’re trying to do more. Not focus on who’s next, but take it in, realize we’re playing pretty well right now and just want to come out and execute.”
Boise State finished with 19 assists in the game, compared to Sacramento State, which finished with 12 assists.
“The ball goes where it’s supposed to go, and it doesn’t have an agenda,” said head coach Leon Rice. “(The ball) finds the right guy and then all of a sudden the right guy is wide open, these guys are good players, and if we get them the ball at the right spots, then they can shoot it.”
Grand Canyon University:
The Broncos squeaked out a victory against GCU on Dec. 13 in double overtime, winning 85-80. For one of the first times this season, Boise State struggled to hit 3-point shots, only making five 3-point shots on 24 attempts.
The two teams were virtually identical in many statistical categories, but the biggest discrepancy between the two teams came in the amount of free throws made and taken. Boise State made 24 of 37 free throws, compared to GCU’s 15 of 19.
Hutchison recorded a double-double once again, scoring 27 points and getting 11 rebounds.
“These are the ones that you look at at the end of the year and say ‘we’re here because of them,’” Hutchison said. “We’re not going to remember the ones we’re winning by 40, shooting great and playing great. It’s going to be the ones where we had to find a way to win when shots weren’t falling. These are momentum builders.”
Redshirt senior guard Lexus Williams came up big once again and hit a 3-point shot that forced overtime.
“It felt great; as soon as I got the ball in my hands, I knew I wanted to put it up. I wasn’t scared of the moment, and thank God it went in,” Williams said.
Boise State had four players in double figures for the game: senior forward Chris Sengfelder, Hutchison, Williams and Jessup.
“That’s the best part about our team. We have so many weapons, anyone can get hot on any night and we just use that to our advantage,” Williams said.
Rice stated he was impressed by his team’s ability to find a way to win even when shots weren’t coming easy.
“That’s what great teams can do. They can find ways to win when their plan A isn’t working. We found a way to be a good team without making shots tonight. That’s a great sign,” Rice said.
Southern Methodist University:
Boise State had its six-game win streak snapped when they lost to SMU on Dec. 18, with the final score at 86-63. Boise State struggled most of this game and was never within 10 points in the second half.
Boise State continued to struggle shooting, only making 23 of 61 shots. The team also gave up seven offensive rebounds.
“We didn’t make shots until the very end, and we didn’t give Chandler (Hutchison) much help offensively because we didn’t make any of those,” Rice said to the Bronco Radio Network. “They’re a tough team to drive on. We couldn’t go by them, and they really extended their defense to guard the 3.”
Despite the tough loss, Rice seemed to be able to look at this game as a learning experience.
“You look around the country, and nobody’s played 13 straight perfect games, or 12 straight perfect games,” Rice said in the Idaho Statesman. “You’re going to have some tough ones, and it’s how you respond to it.”
Hutchison did continue to score, and despite the loss, he still scored 18 points. The only other player in double figures was Jessup, who scored 11 points.
Boise State opens its conference schedule against Colorado State on Dec. 27 at Taco Bell Arena. The game tips-off at 7:30 p.m. and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.
Hutchison said the team is focused on winning the Mountain West Championship this year.
“We’re not worried about the next team, whether it be Sacramento State, Grand Canyon or SMU,” Hutchison said. “We’re working towards our ultimate goal, which is to be Mountain West champions, and we know that we’re focused every day.”