Broncos Held Off Aztecs To Move To 5-1 In MWC Play
Chandler Hutchison set the program record with 44 points
Boise State is now 15-3 on the year with Saturday’s win in the books
A sold out Taco Bell Arena, a career-high and program-record 44 points by the preseason player of the year, and most importantly, a win for the home team.
That was only the essentials of Saturday’s night 83-80 Boise State (15-3, 5-1) win over San Diego State (11-5, 3-2), a battle between two teams that have been the leaders of the Mountain West the last half-decade. Though Boise State led 32 of the game’s 40 minutes, San Diego State answered the call and kept the matchup close and the fans on edge throughout the night.
A standard box score would tell you that Chandler Hutchison had a career night. He finished the evening with a program-record 44 points (a career-high, obviously) off 8-11 shooting from two-point range and 7-10 shooting from three-point range. He also converted seven of his nine free throw attempts, including a pair with 15 seconds left to extend the Boise State lead to three, as well as eight rebounds and only two turnovers.
Hutchison didn’t save all of his scoring for last, finishing the first period with 25 points, which was already just nine points shy of tying his career high. He scored each of Boise State’s first 16 points. It wasn’t until a Justinian Jessup jumper with 10:56 remaining in the first half that a Bronco other than Hutchison scored a point. It was just that kind of night in Boise.
Among other crazy stats, Boise State did not score a single bench point all night, but Hutchison did receive contributions from Lexus Williams (16 points) and Justinian Jessup (10 points).
At the end of the first half, Boise State maintained a 40-34 lead. The largest lead of the game for the Broncos, after a Zach Haney three-pointer, was 26-15. San Diego State answered by outscoring BSU by five to close the half within two possessions.
Unlike Boise State, the Aztecs were led by a balanced scoring attack. Devin Watson (19 points) hit four shots from deep, Malik Pope (18 points) was an efficient 8-11 from the field, and freshmen Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell continued to succeed in their expanding roles by combining for 29 points, converting 12 of 29 attempts from the floor.
In the entire second half, the tilt between the two teams never exceeded a two-possession advantage. Boise State led by six with 13:46 remaining, again with 12:41 remaining, San Diego State led by four with 6:24 left, and Lexus Williams to push the lead to four with 1:09 left in regulation. That was the extent of the largest second half leads.
Hutchison knocked down two free throws to give Boise State a 83-80 advantage with 15 seconds left. SDSU freshman guard Matt Mitchell was called for an intentional foul on Hutchison, after he tangled up the Boise State wing in hopes of stopping the clock. Boise State retained possession after the pair of free throws, which sent Hutchison back to the line in hopes of his 45th and 46th point.
Hutchison missed the front end of the one-and-one, allowing San Diego State to have one last shot to tie the game with a three-pointer. Devin Watson, who had hit four of his seven attempts from deep prior to the attempt, missed from the perimeter. Matt Mitchell picked up the offensive rebound and quickly fired from the corner, but the ball lined straight up off of the rim initially and had a distant chance to fall back onto the rim. Instead, Mitchell’s shot was no good, and Boise State picked up a hard-fought victory over the conference rival.
Chandler Hutchison’s scoring outburst was good for the second-highest single game point total of the season. Only Markus Howard’s 52 points on January 3 had a higher total. He’s also one of just ten players to score 44 points on 21 or fewer field goal attempts over the last eight seasons.
Talk of Hutchison’s draft stock immediately became the focus of postgame discussions Saturday night. Currently pegged as a fringe first-rounder, one of the main knocks on Hutchison’s abilities is a lack of perimeter shooting consistency. Nailing seven of his ten attempts from three-point range against a long and athletic defense, which is one of the nation’s best, should quiet the critics for the time being. Hutchison has displayed his ability to work on the weaker side of his game, and even turn his former weaknesses into new strengths.
Above all else for Boise State, a victory to stay just one loss behind Nevada in the conference standings was notched by the Broncos. Nevada and BSU will do battle on January 20 in potentially the most important game of the conference season.
Next up for San Diego State is a home game against Fresno State on Wednesday. Boise State will host Utah State on Wednesday night as well.