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Boise State basketball: Does success in San Diego mean anything?

Viejas Arena will be sold out Saturday. When it’s like that, it’s the most difficult home court in the Mountain West. But Boise State has been unfazed in the past.
Credit: Gregory Bull
Boise State’s Anthony Drmic reacts during an NCAA game Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in San Diego. Boise State rallied past the Aztecs 66-63.

BOISE, Idaho — Friday, January 10, 2020.

Boise State’s first basketball season in the Mountain West was 2011-12.  On February 1, the Broncos faced their first trip to Viejas Arena to face San Diego State, which was ranked No. 17 at the time.  Boise State took it to the wire before losing by two points.  The margin of defeat at Viejas was one point in 2013 and three in 2014.  Then came the back-to-back wins at SDSU the next two years.  In the breakthough in 2015, the Broncos held the No. 24 Aztecs to seven points in the final 12 minutes to win 56-46.  The following year saw Boise State rally from a nine-point deficit with just over a minute left for a 69-66 victory.  The Broncos’ worst loss at Viejas has been eight points.  This seventh-ranked San Diego State team is one of the best they’ve ever faced, but you never know.

WHAT DO ESPN’S METRICS SAY?

ESPN’s new college basketball power rankings this week have San Diego State rated even higher than the polls, at No. 5.  Writes Jeff Borzello: “The big story is the Aztecs, one of two unbeatens remaining in college basketball; they improved to 15-0 last Saturday after winning at Utah State—arguably their toughest game left on the schedule.  Brian Dutcher's team gets the edge on Auburn, the other unbeaten team, for the No. 5 spot due to the Aztecs' collection of quality wins.  They now own victories over Iowa, Creighton, BYU and Utah State, compared to Auburn's best win coming against NC State.”  SDSU is now, of course, 16-0.

Borzello continues: “According to KenPom, San Diego State will be favored in every game the rest of the way, with the toughest test coming at Nevada in the final game of the season.  KenPom gives the Aztecs a 6.2% chance of finishing the regular season with an unbeaten record.  The Aztecs are one of the best defensive teams in the country, holding all but three teams below one point per possession.  They're fifth in scoring defense and eighth in field goal percentage defense.  Offensively, they really shoot it from 3-point range and take care of the ball—and have a legitimate go-to guy in former Washington State transfer Malachi Flynn.”  The fact that these aren’t Steve Fisher’s Aztecs was supposed to be good news, but it’s not.

CHANGE THE CHANNEL ON THE BLUE TURF

Boise State football loses the ESPN Family of Networks—and all its eyeballs—but gains almost $3 million and an olive branch to fans, according to the new six-year Mountain West TV deal released yesterday.  The conference resisted the temptation to do a deep dive into digital broadcasts, splitting the deal between CBS and Fox.  The Broncos’ home rights will be owned by Fox, and the Mountain West road games by CBS, and the fact sheet from the MW shows the Fox kickoff window on Saturdays to end by 7:45 p.m.  You can only hope that means what we think it means. 

The devil might be in these details: “CBS All Access” and FS2 (DirecTV Channel 618) are included under “platforms.”  You can also only hope that no Broncos games end up there.  The agreement does say a “minmum of three games annually on CBS.”  One of those will be the championship game, but two other games will be on that stage.  Meanwhile, Boise State-Florida State may be a candidate for the main Fox network in September.  Fox is already considering bringing its Fox Big Noon Kickoff Show to Boise for the Broncos and Seminoles.  That would mean a 10 a.m. kickoff for the game.

PLAYOFFS PART II FOR TWO BRONCOS

There were only two Boise State products who made the NFL Playoffs this year, Kamalei Correa of the Titans and Alexander Mattison of the Vikings, and they’ve both advanced to the Divisional round.  Correa now faces the team that drafted him, the Baltimore Ravens.  It’ll be fun trying to tackle Lamar Jackson.  Correa made two stops in the Titans’ upset of New England last week.  Mattison hopes to team with Dalvin Cook to feed a massive Vikings upset of the San Francisco 49ers.  Mattison had a definite role for Minnesota in the stunner over the Saints in the Superdome.  In his return after missing two weeks with an ankle injury, he spelled Cook and had five carries for 20 yards and two catches for 10 yards.  A legion of family and friends from San Bernardino will now find their way north to Santa Clara.

STEELIES CHECK OUT INDIANA

The Idaho Steelheads are in a far-off land this weekend, making their first-ever trip to Fort Wayne, IN.  The Steelie in the spotlight going into the two-game series against the Komets is Jeff King, who actually began last season in Fort Wayne.  King has shifted from defenseman to forward and is on a four-game point streak since doing so.  The streak is tied for the longest in his professional career.  For the season, King has scored three goals and added 10 assists in 21 games. 

WICKED WIND AT WAIALAE 

Graham DeLaet has at least a shot to play the weekend, but it’ll be a steep climb for Troy Merritt at the Sony Open in Hawaii.  Relentless crosswinds were a factor in the first round Thursday at Waialae Country Club, as DeLaet shot a two-over 72 and Merritt came in at five-over 75.  A stretch of the back nine was disastrous for Merritt.  He carded back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 and followed with a bogey on No. 13.

BACK TO HOOPS

The Boise State women, trying to three-peat as Mountain West champions this season, find themselves tied for fourth place in the conference at 3-2 going into tomorrow’s game against San Diego State in ExtraMile Arena.  The Broncos are a full two games behind 5-0 Fresno State—they’re also looking up at Wyoming and UNLV.  Boise State helped the Rebels get there with a woeful fourth quarter Wednesday in Las Vegas.  More from the men’s side: College of Idaho takes its No. 5 ranking and seven-game winning streak on the road this weekend to Northwest University and Evergreen State, while the Northwest Nazarene men won 85-72 at Montana State Billings Thursday night.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…January 10, 1982:

In the Bay Area, it is still known as “The Catch”—Dwight Clark’s fingertip grab of a Joe Montana pass with 51 seconds left in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park.  It gave San Francisco a 28-27 win over Dallas and symbolized the beginning of a 17-season run of excellence for the 49ers—a period in which they won five Super Bowls (the first one coming two weeks later over Cincinnati). 

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK.  He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)