Game Recap: Utah State 70, Boise State 61
Aggies pull into three-way tie for 3rd place with BSU, Nevada
Utah State bent but never broke as they evened the season series with Boise State on Saturday.
Utah State got revenge against their neighbors to the north, beating Boise State 70-61 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday. While the Aggies led for nearly the entire game, the Broncos didn’t allow themselves to be put away for good until the final minute. The win pulls Utah State up into a three-way tie for third place with Boise State and Nevada.
The Aggies (19-7, 8-5 MWC) led by as many as 12 points during the second half, but they also let the Broncos stay within reach for the duration of the game. The deficit shrunk to as small as a single point after Riley Abercrombie’s field goal with just over a minute remaining.
But on the ensuing possession, the Aussie freshman was charged with a flagrant foul after pulling down Utah State’s Neemias Queta on a shot attempt.
The decision from the referees meant that the Aggies retained the ball after Queta made both free throws, and fellow USU star Sam Merrill added two more on the bonus possession. The Broncos were unable to score another point, as Utah State ended the game on an 8-0 run.
Queta led all scorers with a game-high 21 points, adding five rebounds and five blocks. Merrill contributed 17 points and four assists. Diogo Brito had 11 ponts and seven rebounds for the Aggies, while Justin Bean had 16 rebounds to go along with seven points.
Despite getting the win, Utah State will not be happy with their three-point shooting performance. They finished the game just 2-for-19 from beyond the arc, barely eclipsing the 10% mark. For a team with multiple sharpshooters, this kind of inefficiency simply does not compute.
They were bailed out in this instance, by a Boise State team that didn’t fare much better from three-point land. The Broncos went 6-for-29 from deep, good for just 20.7% on the night.
Senior guard Justinian Jessup was the only Boise State player to hit multiple threes, knocking down a trio of triples to extend his newly-earned Mountain West record for career threes made to 301. He is the first player in league history to surpass the threshold.
Jessup led Boise State (16-9, 8-5 MWC) with 20 points. Alex Hobbs had a second-straight impressive offensive showing, putting up 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. After scoring a career-high 24 points off the bench against Wyoming earlier this week, Hobbs got the start in place of Abu Kigab, who sat out of Saturday’s game with a hip injury.
Derrick Alston Jr.’s struggles this week continued through the weekend. The junior went 0-for-7 and scored just two points against the Cowboys on Tuesday. His box score improved on Saturday, but he still managed only seven points on 2-of-8 from the floor.
Abercrombie was forced into extra action against the Aggies after RJ Williams and Robin Jorch both fouled out. Though he did have some success on the interior, Abercrombie was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc—and also committed the ill-timed flagrant foul near the end of the game.
Utah State’s next matchup is a Tuesday showdown on the road against Colorado State (17-8, 8-4 MWC). Now that the Aggies have climbed back into third place in the Mountain West, only the Rams stand between them and San Diego State. A win in Fort Collins would give Utah State at least a share of second place in the league. It would also position the Aggies to hold firm in that position, with their final four games all coming against teams in the bottom half of the conference.
Boise State heads home to host Air Force (9-15, 3-9 MWC). The Falcons were the latest team to put a scare into San Diego State but were unable to seal the deal at Clune Arena. Dave Pilipovich’s team has been disappointing compared to preseason projections, but they are always capable of surprising an unsuspecting team. If the Broncos want to keep pace in the MW for second or third place, they cannot afford to overlook this midweek tussle, especially with a Sunday tilt with SDSU looming.
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.