BY MIKE PRATER
SATURDAY’S GAME: Boise State (20-4, 10-2 Mountain West) at Utah State (13-12, 6-6) at 7 p.m. MT in Logan, Utah (670 AM, 93.1 FM, AT&T SportsNet). … The Broncos defeated Utah State 71-67 in Taco Bell Arena on Jan. 17 as Chandler Hutchison and Marcus Dickinson each scored 16 points. … Utah State averages 73.6 points and has won three of its past four games, but the Aggies are coming off an 18-point loss at Wyoming. … Boise State hasn’t lost in the Smith Spectrum since Feb. 8, 2014.
WEDNESDAY’S GAME: Boise State (20-4, 10-2 Mountain West) vs. Nevada (20-5, 9-2) at 9 p.m. MT at Taco Bell Arena (670 AM, 93.1 FM, ESPNU). … Boise State is 13-0 in Taco Bell Arena this season with three home games remaining. The 1986-87 team finished 16-1 at home and the 1997-98 squad was 13-0. … Nevada could be without junior forward Caleb Martin (out indefinitely with a sprained foot ligament), the second leading scorer in the Mountain West (19.8 ppg) behind Hutchison. The Reno Gazette Journal reported that Nevada (hosts San Diego State on Saturday) is so thin, it has added a freshman football player and a former basketball walk-on from 2015-17 to its roster.
HUTCHISON UPDATE: The senior guard and NBA Draft prospect is averaging a Mountain West-best 19.9 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. He also leads the Broncos in assists with 82. He is one of 10 candidates for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, an annual honor that recognized the top shooting guard in Division I men’s college basketball. He is the only candidate who leads his team in scoring, rebounding and assists.
AVERAGE HOME ATTENDANCE: 6,270 (the highest average since consistent Boise State records were maintained starting with the 2001-02 season is 6,810 during the 2013-14 season). Boise State can top that mark this season by averaging 9,149 fans over the final three home games (Nevada, Air Force and Wyoming/Senior Night).
BOISE STATE RPI: 32
UTAH STATE: 147
- ESPN/Joe Linardi lists Boise State as a No. 12 seed, playing No. 5 Miami in San Diego.
- CBS Sports/Jerry Palm lists Boise State as one of the “first four out” of the NCAA Tournament.
OPINIONATOR: Boise State’s victory at New Mexico, Nevada’s loss to UNLV, and the indefinite loss of Martin to the Wolf Pack roster provided a huge momentum swing for the Broncos this week. Boise State is now a strong favorite to win the Mountain West regular season championship and No. 1 seed for the postseason tournament. The remaining schedule favors Boise State as Nevada faces road games at Boise State, Utah State, UNLV and San Diego State. The season could be shaping up like a typical Boise State basketball game: A methodical start, a furious finish and a close win. Coach Leon Rice admits this team is special, so anything short of a strong finish and a regular season title would be a wasted opportunity. This team has better character than that, not to mention NBA talent in Hutchison and enough depth to produce some postseason magic.
Mike Prater, editor of The Opinionator, co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk with Caves & Prater weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket and can be heard on Bronco GameNight after BSU football games on KBOI 670 AM and KTIK 93.1 FM. He can be reached at email@example.com, and found @CavesandPrater (Facebook) and @MikeFPrater (Twitter).
MOUNTAIN WEST STANDINGS
|San Diego State||5-6||4.5||.455||13-9||.591||L1|
|San Jose State||0-11||9.5||.000||3-19||.136||L11|
Standings through Friday, Feb. 9
Picture of Chandler Hutchison courtesy of Boise State Photo Services