Game Recap: Boise St. 73, Nevada 64
Justinian Jessup ties Jimmer Fredette for MW 3-point record
Nevada’s furious comeback attempt comes up short in Boise
Following a 73-64 home victory over Nevada, Boise State has moved into a second-place tie in the Mountain West with Colorado State. The Broncos improved to 7-4 in league play, prevailing at ExtraMile Arena behind 24 points from junior guard Derrick Alston, Jr.
Justinian Jessup added 17 points for the Broncos and added a special individual honor in the process.
The loss drops Nevada (13-10, 6-5 MW) into a share of fifth place with Utah State, as the Aggies fell to undefeated San Diego State on Saturday. The Wolf Pack were gifted another memorable offensive performance from Jalen Harris, who dropped 30 points for the third time this season.
Unfortunately for Harris, the rest of the Pack barely managed to outscore him. No other Nevada player reached double digits in scoring.
Nevada’s chances in this contest took a major blow when senior guard Jazz Johnson was announced as a late scratch due to injury. Without Johnson, the team struggled from beyond the arc and were unable to recover from a 32-10 Boise State run to start the game.
The Broncos (15-8, 7-4 MW) proceeded to give back most of that lead, letting Nevada creep back into the game slowly throughout the middle twenty minutes of the contest. With 10:57 to play, a Lindsey Drew layup brought the deficit to just three points, at 48-45.
But Alston, Jessup, and company would not allow the Wolf Pack to bring the game level. The deficit ebbed and flowed over the last few minutes, with Nevada coming within four points of Boise State after a Drew three-pointer with 4:37 left in the second half.
Jessup answered that triple with one of his own—and it was a special one, at that.
The senior’s three-pointer with 4:13 to play was the 296th of his illustrious career in Boise. That number ties the Mountain West record set by former BYU star Jimmer Fredette. Jessup missed his only subsequent attempt from beyond the arc, so Fredette will hold onto at least a share of the record for at least a few more nights.
That record will almost certainly soon be Jessup’s alone.
More important than any individual accolades, however, is how this Boise State team has bounced back from a somewhat shaky start to the season. The additions of Abu Kigab and RayJ Dennis into the starting lineup has provided a spark to Leon Rice’s lineups, and questions about the Broncos’ depth have been answered satisfactorily over the past few games.
For Nevada, this is another disappointing result on the week, following a heartbreaking defeat on Wednesday against Colorado State. Certainly, the absence of Jazz Johnson can explain away some part of this loss to Boise State, but the Wolf Pack have made an unfortunate habit of squandering chances to separate themselves in this league.
Instead, they now slip back in the standings and enter a dangerous zone in which a first-round bye in the Mountain West Tournament is suddenly at risk. The top five schools in the league receive a bye in the first round of the conference tournament.
Still, Nevada faced the difficult task of facing two teams on a positive streak in enemy territory.
Despite taking two losses in rapid succession, the Wolf Pack still boast arguably the best offensive player in the league in Harris. If Johnson returns quickly, and he can join with Drew and Nisre Zouzoua to lend Harris some scoring support, Nevada should be able to stay in the top five.
For Boise State, besides moving up in the Mountain West leaderboard, the win provided some catharsis following an 83-66 loss to Wolf Pack in Reno.
Boise State travels to Laramie on Tuesday night to face last-place Wyoming (6-17, 1-10 MW). The Cowboys just picked up their first win of the Mountain West season as they snapped an eight-game losing streak with a road victory over San Jose State. The Broncos should hold an advantage over Allen Edwards’ club, but the unfriendly confines of Arena-Auditorium could prove a difficult backdrop for an easy win. Boise State won the first matchup between the schools this season, coming away with a 65-54 victory at home back on New Year’s Day.
Nevada returns home to Lawlor Events Center as Air Force (9-13, 3-7 MW) comes to town on Tuesday night. Just a few weeks ago, the Falcons were feeling good after knocking off Utah State and Boise State over a three-game span. More recently, however, Dave Pilipovich’s squad has sputtered to a four-game losing streak that includes defeats against Fresno State and San Jose State. Still, this team boasts an offense that has the capacity to hang around with Nevada. That was on full display back on December 7, when Nevada cruised to a 100-85 victory in Colorado Springs.
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.