THIS DAY IN SPORTS: Surreal hoops scene for the Worldwide Leader

Presented by ZAMZOWS.

This Day In Sports…February 23, 1989, 35 years ago today:

Boise State makes its first national TV appearance from the BSU Pavilion, hosting Idaho live on ESPN. Senior Chris Childs led the Broncos to an intense 63-61 victory before a sellout crowd of 12,422—still the second-largest in school history. That was during the zenith of Boise State basketball popularity. The current era is a close second, but think about it. Boise was less than half the size it is now, and it was a Thursday night with only a handful of no-shows. And there was a cacophony of sound on every defensive possession. The Broncos were, of course, playing their bitter rivals, the Vandals. The school doesn’t have a rival like that today.

It was an interesting season.  Boise State was the defending Big Sky champion and would win the conference regular season title, but the Broncos missed departed stars Arnell Jones and Doug Usitalo. That didn’t stop them from recording some big victories—like the one in December when Childs dueled the great Gary Payton in the Pavilion. Boise State clamped down for a 53-43 victory over Oregon State and retiring coaching legend Ralph Miller. The Broncos also earned a two-point win over Wisconsin-Green Bay and star guard Tony Bennett, and they split a home-and-home series with Akron and coach Bob Huggins.

Childs, the Big Sky Player of the Year, started every game of his four-year career at Boise State and was a three-time All-Big Sky pick. But he wasn’t the Broncos’ leading scorer that season. That honor went to All-Big Sky forward Wilson Foster at 15.4 points per game. Idaho was really good during that era, too. A couple weeks after the landmark ESPN appearance, the Vandals would topple the Broncos in the championship game of the Big Sky Tournament in the Pavilion to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament the following week to play UNLV…right back in the Pavilion.

While the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds occupied what is now ExtraMile Arena, Boise State was off to Stillwater to play in the NIT, facing Oklahoma State. Playing classic Bobby Dye ball, the Broncos took up to 30 seconds off the 35-second shot clock on each possession, and they led the Cowboys by five points early in the second half. But OSU eventually took control on the boards and on the free throw line and won 69-55. The Broncos finished 23-7, their third straight 20-win season.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)


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