Inside Slant: Boise State Basketball Is Hot

If Boise State can win a four-overtime game on a Thursday and then turn around, travel to Hawaii and rout a promising Warriors team two nights later ... what can't it do?

The Broncos continued to be the surprise team in the WAC under first-year coach Leon Rice, as they moved to 11-5 overall and 4-0 in the WAC with a 79-55 victory at Hawaii on Jan. 8.

"I think the WAC's crazy in that there's a lot of teams that can beat each other," Rice said.

So far, Boise State is one of the teams that has risen above the pack, emerging as a challenger to everybody's favorite, Utah State.

The turnaround from the four-overtime, 102-101 victory against San Jose State to the win over Hawaii shows Boise State's experience and its depth. The Broncos had six players play at least 31 minutes against SJSU -- including Robert Arnold (53) and Paul Noonan (57) -- but they were able to comfortably use a deep rotation at Hawaii and pull away in the second half.

"They are just relentless at fighting through some stuff," Rice said of his team after surviving the four-overtime game, "and we had to fight through some amazing things."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Boise State started 4-0 in the WAC for the first time ever. The last time the Broncos were 4-0 in league play, it was the 1998-99 season, when they were in the Big West.

--Boise State has defeated San Jose State in 16 of the past 17 meetings. The teams meet again in Boise on March 5 in the regular-season finale. Boise State then moves on to the Mountain West conference for next season.

--The quadruple-overtime game against San Jose State on Jan. 6 was the longest game in Boise State history. Five Broncos posted their career highs in minutes player, including Paul Noonan (57) and Robert Arnold (53). Guard La'Shard Anderson scored a career-high 31 points.

BY THE NUMBERS: 76.9 -- Boise State's scoring average -- the best in the WAC -- through games of Jan. 8.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was the best of times and the worst of times." -- Boise State coach Leon Rice, after the four-overtime victory over San Jose State.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--vs. Utah State, Jan. 13

KEY MATCHUPS: It's a (surprising) early battle for the WAC lead, with Boise State at 4-0 and Utah State at 3-0. These are the two most experienced teams in the league. BSU point guard La'Shard Anderson has been hot lately, and he'll need to continue to be against Utah State's point -- junior college transfer Brockeith Pane. That is one area in which the Broncos might have a one-on-one edge.

--vs. Nevada, Jan. 8

KEY MATCHUPS: Boise State faces another high-scoring WAC team, but the Broncos have much more experience than the Wolf Pack, which is uncharacteristically struggling this season. Nevada would be happy to run with Boise State, though, and this should be an entertaining game. The Broncos have to corral SG Malik Story and F Olek Czyz, who are both dangerous scorers and shooters.

FUTURES MARKET: PG La'Shard Anderson should be brimming with confidence after his performances in recent games. He had 31 points in the quadruple-overtime win over San Jose State, hitting nine of 17 shots from the field and 12 of 15 from the line -- and he followed with a team-high 20 points at Hawaii. Anderson made seven of 12 shots from the field, including five of six from 3-point range, vs. the Warriors. Boise State entered the season without a proven go-to scorer, but Anderson and F Robert Arnold have filled that gap, which should make the Broncos dangerous throughout the WAC season.

PLAYER NOTES

--Senior G La'Shard Anderson scored a career-high 31 points in the four-overtime win over San Jose State. He had 17 of his team's 28 points in the overtimes.

--F Drew Wiley will sit out this season after transferring from Oregon. He averaged 2.2 points in 19 games for the Ducks last season. He was listed with 1 minute played against SJSU, but that appears to be in error.

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