San Jose State at Boise State: Game Preview, TV, Radio, Live Stream, Odds, More
Both teams have already surpassed last year’s win totals
Can the Spartans sneak up on the Broncos in Boise?
WHO: San Jose State (7-14, 3-6 MWC) at Boise State (13-8, 5-4 MWC)
WHEN: Wednesday, January 29 — 7:00 P.M. MT / 6:00 P.M. PT
WHERE: ExtraMile Arena, Boise, ID
WATCH: Mountain West Network
ALL-TIME: Boise State leads the series, 32-3
ODDS: Boise State -16, per KenPom
Boise State returns to ExtraMile Arena on Wednesday night as they take on San Jose State. The Broncos have a chance to move into a third-place tie in the Mountain West, but these Spartans are not the same pushovers they were a year ago. The game tips off at 7:00 PM Mountain Time and will be shown on the Mountain West Network.
The Broncos (13-8, 5-4 MW) will be intent on extending a burgeoning winning streak, which so far features victories over Utah State and Fresno State on consecutive Saturdays. It may have taken a miracle for Boise State to escape with a win over the Aggies, but their defeat of the Bulldogs was as sound as they come. The Broncos coasted to a 34-point victory in Fresno four days ago.
The team has seemingly turned a corner in the second half of the season, thanks in part to the addition of transfer forward Abu Kigab. The former Oregon Duck is averaging 14.4 points per game and more than four rebounds nightly, having started in all eleven of his appearances since joining the active roster in December.
Kigab joins teammates Derrick Alston, Justinian Jessup, and RJ Williams as double-digit scorers. Alston, a 6’8” junior with pro potential, leads the charge with better than 19 points per game. The sharpshooting Jessup has regained his form after an early season slump, shooting 45% on three-pointers during conference play, and scores 15 points an outing.
Williams, in particular, has been a very important piece for the Broncos. He was thrust into the starting lineup at the start of this season after serving almost exclusively as a sixth man during his time on Leon Rice’s bench in 2018-19. Though he seemed somewhat miscast as the center, standing at just 6’7”, Williams responded by becoming one of the most tenacious defensive rebounders in the country. He has shown continued development with his offensive game, posting nearly 12 points per game.
The arrival of Kigab has allowed Williams to slide back into his old role—and the results have been enouraging.
And while this team has had its fair share of issues on the road, ExtraMile has been something of a safe haven for the Broncos.
All four of Boise State’s conference losses have come in enemy territory. In fairness, those games have been at The Pit, Viejas Arena, Lawlor Events Center, and Clune Arena. None of those venues are exactly welcoming. But the Broncos haven’t lost a home game since a November 15 upset at the hands of UC Irvine.
The Broncos will try to keep their eight-game home winning streak alive on Wednesday, but another Californian team could sneak up on them.
It may not be instantly obvious looking at the standings, but head coach Jean Prioleau has architected a quiet turnaround for San Jose State this season. Before judging this team solely on its 7-14 record, consider that the Spartans won just four games a year ago. They already have three victories in league play alone in 2019-20, including wins over Nevada and New Mexico.
The third member of that trio of wins came in their most recent contest, when they hosted Air Force. The Spartans prevailed 90-81 at home against the Falcons, with Seneca Knight turning in another 20-point performance.
It was the sophomore’s fifth such effort this season, and his fourth in the past five games. Knight is averaging nearly 18 points and seven rebounds in Mountain West games and will be at the center of Prioleau’s program for the foreseeable future.
For the program to find any sustained success, however, Knight needs more support from the cast of players around him.
Senior guard Brae Ivey has been a serviceable game manager in the backcourt, averaging nearly ten points and three assists, while playing solid defense (1.2 steals per game) and limiting his turnovers (1.5 per game). But Ivey isn’t best suited as the second option in this offense.
Ideally, that person would be Richard Washington, Jr. The JUCO sniper was brought over after a successful stint at Tallahassee CC and was thought to be the offensive weapon that Prioleau’s team needed behind Knight.
Unfortunately, the returns haven’t been exactly as hoped, with Washington struggling with his shot at the Division I level. The junior is shooting just 36% from the field, a number weighed down by a pedestrian 32% clip from beyond the arc.
Still, Washington has the talent to get hot on any given night. If he and Knight can coordinate their efforts, they could pose a serious threat for a Boise State team that would do well not to look past this matchup in advance of their date with Nevada on Saturday.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.