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Boise State basketball: Getting bench balance back

All is not lost at Boise State, despite the two defeats at Nevada. Certain things have to happen to right the ship.
Credit: Boise State Athletics
Boise State’s Max Rice puts up a floater in a game against Air Force in ExtraMile Arena, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Boise State won 80-69.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, February 11, 2021.

The expectation (and it still may be reality) was that this is the best men’s basketball team in Boise State history. And one theory behind that was the uncommon depth that the Broncos enjoy. Bench points have not been abundant the past five games, though, with the reserves topping 20 points combined only once. Emmanuel Akot had the best weekend of his career at Nevada, scoring 32 points in the two games. But the rest of the bench had only six. Boise State could use some rejuvenation from Max Rice and Devonaire Doutrive going into the series against UNLV tonight in ExtraMile Arena. Rice has made just four of his last 20 three-point attempts. Doutrive made up for lost time when he finally became eligible in early January, but he’s cooled off. He’s been in double figures just once in the past five games.

IDAHO CENTER, NO—HAMILTON, YES

There won’t be any distractions tonight, as in, no unfamiliar surroundings at the Ford Idaho Center. Boise State’s attempt to move the UNLV games to Nampa in order to allow some fans to attend did not work out. So it’s the Broncos and Rebels in the coronavirus-induced quiet of ExtraMile Arena. The basics: UNLV is coming off a road sweep of Air Force following two losses at Nevada. The difference? Bryce Hamilton missed the two games in Reno. Hamilton leads the Rebels in scoring at 18.2 points per game. Boise State radio analyst Abe Jackson likens Hamilton’s style to that of Nevada’s Grant Sherfield, the “shotmaker” who sliced and diced the Broncos last weekend. There you go.

FIRST 40-POINT GAME FOR THE BOISE STATE WOMEN

It’s unusual that college basketball teams play each other in consecutive games, as they are in this COVID-affected season. It’s even more unusual to do that on back-to-back days, but that’s what the Boise State and UNLV women are saddled with. One down, one to go. And what a one the first one was. Jade Loville scored a school-record 40 points, breaking the mark of 39 set by Miquelle Askew five years ago, as Boise State dismantled the Rebels 85-59 Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Loville did it with zero three-pointers and just two free throws as she went an amazing 19-for-28 from the field. She scored 36 of her points over the first three quarters and almost outscored UNLV by herself at that point—the Broncos led 69-37 going into the fourth. Loville’s family was able to attend for nthe first time this season, including her dad, Derek, the former NFL running back. Boise State, which had lost five of its past six games, finally got back on track and moved back over .500 in Mountain West play at 7-6 (10-6 overall). The two teams go right back at it this afternoon.

IOANE’S ANALYSIS OF KANIHO

Kane Ioane has been on the Boise State football staff only two weeks, but he’s already identified one guy who’s got the chops. The new safeties and nickels coach is fairly blown away by what super senior Kekaula Kaniho gets out of his 183-pound frame. “A lot of it comes down to preparation,” said Ioane on Idaho SportsTalk Wednesday. “He’s in here all the time watching film, and he’s in the front row at all of our meetings.” Kaniho has one thing that can’t be taught: instinct. We saw that when he scored two defensive touchdowns as a true freshman in 2017. But can he be even better? “There’s some things I saw on film that I think I can help him with,” said Ioane, himself one of the best safeties in Big Sky history during his Montana State days.

CHOATE’S SUCCESSOR IN BOZEMAN

Brent Vigen is settling into his new job as head coach at Montana State, replacing former Boise State assistant Jeff Choate. What’s that mean for the Broncos? Vigen won’t be directing the offense at Wyoming anymore.He had been on Craig Bohl’s Cowboys staff since 2014, coming over with Bohl from North Dakota State. Vigen was Carson Wentz’s quarterbacks coach at NDSU—then he recruited and coached Josh Allen at Wyoming. It was Allen who delivered one of the most painful passes in Boise State history, hitting Tanner Gentry on a cross-body bullet for the touchdown that led to an upset of the Broncos in 2016. The Pokes have been average on offense since then, though.

MERRITT ON THE FAMOUSLY SCENIC GOLF LINKS

Troy Merritt has been watching the weather in Pebble Beach, CA. That’s what you do this time of year, as the tournament once known as the Crosby Clambake takes over the Monterey Peninsula. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tees off today with rain in the forecast, although it’s not expected to last through the weekend. Merritt starts on No. 10 this morning at Spyglass Hill. The former Boise State star is looking for a bounce-back. He recovered from a first-round 74 to shoot a two-under 69 last Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but it wasn’t enough to make the cut.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…February 11, 2011, 10 years ago today:

The Cleveland Cavaliers break an NBA record 26-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 126-119 in overtime. In their first season without superstar LeBron James, the Cavs had been positively awful. But five days after ending the streak they would take down the two-time defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers, improving Cleveland’s record to 10-46. Just a season earlier the Cavaliers had compiled the league’s best record at 61-21.

(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.) 

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