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Boise State basketball: High-altitude accomplishment

The Boise State men’s basketball team hasn’t lost since its season opener on Thanksgiving weekend. Now the Broncos’ winning streak is officially historic.
Credit: Wyoming Athletics
Boise State’s Abu Kigab drives past Wyoming’s Jeremiah Oden during the Broncos’ 83-60 win in Laramie, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday, January 12, 2021.

Boise State is in rarified air, and we’re not talking Laramie’s elevation. The Broncos set a new school record Monday night by winning their 11th game in a row in an 83-60 victory at Wyoming. They also have a 7-0 Mountain West record, equaling the Big Sky start by the great 1988 team. Boise State began the night on an 8-0 run and finished it with a 20-2 blitz after the Cowboys had gotten within five points with eight minutes left in the game. One of the big stories in this one: Mladen Armus, who was mobbed by his teammates at the end of the game after scoring 12 points with 14 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive glass, the most at Boise State in seven years. Best game yet from Armus.

Without Emmanuel Akot, and with an off-night from Derrick Alston (and ultimately an injury), Armus, Abu Kigab and Devonaire Doutrive were more than enough for Boise State against Wyoming. Kigab turned in another solid effort, scoring 21 points and blocking five shots, the most by a Bronco in 11 years. Doutrive is starting to get in a groove after his long hoops layoff. The Arizona transfer also put up 21 points and hit his first four three-pointers as a Bronco. Two of them came back-to-back at around the three-minute mark in the second half to put the game away. Akot is nursing an injured Achilles, and Alston turned his ankle with less than eight minutes left in the game. But this Boise State team has so many weapons.

MCGWIRE AT HER LEVEL BEST

Mallory McGwire was the best player on the court Monday in the Boise State-Wyoming women’s game, and she turned in the best game of her career in a 68-61 Broncos win. McGwire scored a career-best 25 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, and her offense wasn’t all about the paint. The senior from Reno went 5-for-11 from three-point range, befuddling the Cowgirls and upping Boise State’s Mountain West record to 4-1. The Broncos needed McGwire. Wyoming roared back from a nine-point deficit to tie the game at 46-46 with 7½ minutes left in the game before a 12-2 run, punctuated by McGwire’s final trey of the day, effectively sealed it.

STAT CATEGORY NO. 1

Andy Avalos’ influence on the Boise State defense in his time as defensive coordinator was significant. You know the one stat everyone will point to, right? Turnovers. Let’s look at interceptions in particular. The Broncos started slowly in Avalos’ first season as DC, picking off seven passes in 2016 (although that would have sounded great this past season). Boise State logged 15 interceptions in 2017 and 10 in 2018 before Avalos headed for Oregon. Here’s what is downright stark. Since Avalos has been gone, the Broncos have just five interceptions in 21 games (and both of this year’s picks came on desperation throws on the final play of the game). The Ducks have 25 in the same number of contests. To be fair, Boise State and Oregon each have nine fumble recoveries in the past 21 games.

HAWK-ISMS, JUST THE WAY YOU LIKE ‘EM

Avalos’ old coach was a guest on KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk on Monday. As usual, Dan Hawkins was rich in pearls of wisdom. The UC Davis coach saw this potential in Avalos back when both of them were taking Boise State into the Top 25 in the early 2000s. “He just got better when the games got tougher,” said Hawkins. “He has a tremendous football IQ—very humble. I just can’t say enough things about him.” Avalos helped Hawkins develop the program from the inside, too, and the foundation remains today. Hawkins feels Avalos will elevate it. “Culture eats strategy for lunch every day, and the culture there is great,” Hawkins said. Any words of caution? “No matter how much you have a plan when you interview, when you get in the saddle, the dynamic changes,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

ON THE COACHING TRAIL

With UC Davis offensive coordinator Tim Plough set to take the same job at Boise State, Dan Hawkins named son Cody as the Aggies’ new O-coordinator Monday. Cody Hawkins, now 32, is the former Bishop Kelly star who played quarterback for his dad at Colorado. Cody has been wide receivers coach at Davis the past three seasons. And former Boise State outside linebackers coach Zac Alley has officially been named the new defensive coordinator for Terry Bowden at Louisiana-Monroe. Alley is just 27 years old and becomes the youngest D-coordinator in the FBS.

NOT TO FORGET CHOATE

A belated nod to Jeff Choate. By all accounts, he really wanted the Boise State job, and he had a lot of support. And his candidacy did not cool until it was clear Avalos was the choice. “God is good. I’m so thankful for all the love and support I’ve received over the past several weeks,” Choate tweeted last Friday. “While I’m appreciative to have had the opportunity to engage with Boise State, I’m thankful to be the head coach at Montana State University.” Choate would have been a harder sell to Bronco faithful, but I’m convinced he would have won fans over.

ALOHA, MANOA

While Bronco Nation frets about the east side renovation of Albertsons Stadium coming to fruition, Hawaii fans are just trying to figure out how they’re going to watch their Rainbow Warriors. University of Hawaii football is preparing to play its home games at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletic Complex on its Manoa campus, school officials announced Monday. Aloha Stadium officials say their facility is unfit to host such events, and a new stadium at the current site wouldn’t be ready to open until at least 2023—probably later. “We are extremely excited about this opportunity and see enormous potential in playing on-campus for the first time in our history,” said UH athletic director David Matlin. How’s that for a spin? T.C. Ching currently holds up to 3,000 fans. They’re talking about expanding it to 15,000.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…January 12, 2016, five years ago today:

A two-year grind of rumors and angst come to an end as NFL owners vote 30-2 to allow the St. Louis Rams to move back to Los Angeles. Owners chose the Rams’ plan for a new stadium in Inglewood over one in Carson proposed by the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers. But the league gave the Chargers the option of sharing the new stadium—and exactly one year later, the club announced it was moving to L.A after 56 years in San Diego. The nation’s second-largest market had been without NFL football since the Rams and Raiders departed following the 1994 season.

(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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