SCOTT SLANT: The Broncos’ momentum takes a detour

Presented by HARMON TRAVEL.

Wednesday Weekly…February 7, 2024.

The sound of the night for Boise State Tuesday night was “Clang!” It didn’t matter if it was lay-ins, three-pointers, second-half free throws or even dunks, shots just didn’t go down as the Broncos fell 75-62 at Colorado State. The box score told the story in this one: Boise State hit just 41 percent from the floor, and the Rams sizzled at 56 percent. Max Rice had one of those nights, going just 3-for-9 from the field. Chibuzo Agbo was 3-for-10. But you can’t take anything away from Tyson Degenhart, who led all scorers with 25 points. He just needed a supporting cast on offense. Degenhart was 10-for-14 from the floor—the rest of the team was 13-for-42.


Defensive lapses were noticeable early Tuesday night. In fact, CSU was executing all those backdoor cuts we thought we’d see from Air Force last Saturday. The Rams were deadly around the basket, scoring 40 points in the paint. As locked-in as the Broncos were against Air Force, they were not that at CSU. The Rams also made 17 of their 19 free throws, while the Broncos went to ice after making their first five, ending up 11-for-17. Another factor was the Broncos bench. It turned a corner against Air Force—but not thecorner. The reserves scored only eight points in Fort Collins, all from Andrew Meadow and Jace Whiting. 


Symptomatic of Boise State’s night was a stretch midway through the second half. The Broncos, fighting back from double-digit deficits from late in the first half on, had cut Colorado State’s lead to six points with an 8-2 run. Then the Rams converted a three-point play, and Chibuzo Agbo missed a dunk. Agbo followed with a foul at the other end, and a couple of CSU free throws kicked the advantage right back to 11, and it stayed around there for the rest of the night. 

But lo and behold, Boise State is still tied for first in the Mountain West after Nevada upset Utah State 77-63 in Logan last night. And who do the Broncos have next on Saturday?  Well, might be a bad time to face the Aggies. Mountain West basketball is just amazing. The Broncos’ 7-3 conference record is matched by not only Utah State, but also New Mexico and San Diego State after their wins last night. Ten games down and eight to go.


Rice wasn’t at his best at CSU, but his seven-day vengeance tour came full circle Monday when he was named Mountain West Player of the Week, the first such honor for Boise State this season. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has also honored Rice as one of five Oscar Robertson National Players of the Week. Rice was in A-game mode in the 86-78 upset at No. 19 New Mexico last week, perhaps the biggest win of his Dad’s era, with his 35 points and seven three-pointers. It was the first time a Bronco had scored more than 30 in a road win over a ranked team in 11 years. Rice was “normal” in the rout of Air Force last Saturday, and that was just fine—12 points, all on three-pointers.  


Despite his 25 points, Degenhart would like to put Tuesday night behind him. But before we put last weekend to bed, a salute to Degenhart on his career-high versus Air Force. After going just 1-for-8 from the field at New Mexico—albeit while contributing to Boise State’s win in different ways—Degenhart’s first shot against Air Force Saturday went down just 38 seconds into the game. Then there was another, and another. Degenhart ended up with 29 points in the 94-56 rout, going 11-for-12 from the field, 2-for-3 from three-point range and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. He also had six rebounds.  In reverse chronological order in the past five games, Degenhart has 25, 29, four, 24 and five points.  


Let’s touch on the Bronco football buzz, shall we? An panel took an early look at the 2024 football season this week, and one category was: “Which true freshman or transfer are you most excited to see?” Boise State’s Malachi Nelson was Adam Rittenberg’s answer. “Nelson’s situation stands out for a number of reasons,” writes Rittenberg. “Most No. 1 overall recruits, especially quarterbacks, would pick a similar type of program (to USC) or at least one in a power conference. But Nelson is headed to Boise State, which comes off a surprise Mountain West title run, returns key players such as Ashton Jeanty and may be poised to reclaim its place as the nation’s elite Group of 5 program—just in time for the expanded CFP. Nelson’s evolution on the blue turf will be fascinating to watch.”


I’m not sure why the NFL couldn’t have announced the Philadelphia Eagles’ September opponent in Sao Paolo earlier this week. I guess the more press conferences the merrier. At least the league has every fan base talking about who gets to be the other team. At any rate, we do know Kellen Moore will make his debut as Philly offensive coordinator in a steamy environment in Brazil on a big stage the first Friday of the season. Maybe Moore will re-try the disastrous trick play that ended his Dallas tenure against the 49ers in the playoffs last year. Eagles center Jason Kelce, still trying to decide whether to retire or not, brought it up on the podcast he shares with famous brother Travis. “I still wanna know what was gonna happen,” said Kelce of the ill-fated direct snap to Ezeliel Elliott called by Kellen. “I can’t wait to ask him!”


The Idaho Steelheads and Utah Grizzlies usually face off early and often on the ECHL schedule. Here we are a week into February, and the teams have met only five times this season. That is about to change, as the Steelheads, fresh off a sweep of the Allen Americans, have one of those back-to-back home-and-home series with Utah this weekend. The division rivals face off in West Valley City Friday night and back in Idaho Central Arena Saturday night. There are 28 games left in the regular season for the Steelies, and the Grizzlies are locked in for 10 of them. Idaho’s Mark Rassell, who had spent most of January in the AHL, is back into a tie for the ECHL lead in goals with 24 after tallying twice against Allen last weekend.  


Because the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am became one of the PGA Tour’s “signature events” this year, the field was trimmed to 80 players, and Troy Merritt was not one of them. Pebble Beach replaced this week’s Phoenix Open with the “signature” designation, and Merritt is indeed in that field at TPC Scottsdale beginning Thursday. That means the soon-to-be-inducted Boise State Athletic Hall of Famer gets to play the rowdy par-three 16th hole in one of pro golf’s most unique environments. It’s known as “The Greatest Show on Grass,” and if there’s a hole-in-one, the players might need helmets.


Cascade Conference foes have found the going against College of Idaho much worse the second time around in league play, as the Coyotes continue to up their game. The latest example is Lewis-Clark State, which gave the Yotes a go a month ago before falling 81-71 in Caldwell. It had been the Warriors’ only conference loss—until C of I skewered them 104-63 in Lewiston last Friday. It was the most points scored on the road by Yotes by C of I in 22 years. They went on to drill Walla Walla 106-61 last Saturday to clinch another 20-win season. College of Idaho, riding a 14-game winning streak, hosts Warner Pacific and Multnomah this weekend.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business. 

February 7, 2009…15 years ago today: Sports Illustrated drops a bombshell on baseball, reporting that the game’s highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, tested positive for steroids in 2003. At the time of the test, Rodriguez played for the Texas Rangers and was en route to his third straight American League home run title and first Most Valuable Player award. Later in the month A-Rod would admit using steroids during his three-year stint with the Rangers, casting suspicion on what was assumed to be a clear run to baseball’s career home run record held by the already-tarnished Barry Bonds. Rodriguez, forever tainted, was suspended for the 2014 season with the Yanks and finished his career in 2016 with 696 home runs.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.) 


Bacon Boise
The Sandwich Bar
BBSI Boise
Optimist Youth Football
Commercial Tire