Broncos try to regroup after tough UNLV loss

Boise State remains the only winless team in the Mountain West Conference after dropping a 77-72 overtime thriller at home to UNLV. The Broncos (10-9, 0-4) don't get much time to catch their breath, either. Wyoming (16-4, 2-2) heads to Taco Bell Arena on Saturday. The UNLV loss was the second in a row where Boise State had a chance to win.

The Broncos had the last shot in regulation against the Runnin' Rebels and had a 15-point lead in the second half of a Jan. 21 loss at TCU.

Coach Leon Rice will need his team to regroup both mentally and physically. Injuries have taken away two contributors, leaving the second-year coach with only 10 players. Against UNLV, five Broncos played more than 33 minutes.

And there is the mental part. After starting the season 8-1, the Broncos are just 2-8. With seven freshmen on the roster, the Broncos' coaching staff must keep morale up.

"It's tough but we're getting better," Boise State forward Thomas Bropleh said. "That's all that matters."

Buckner returns following eligibility review

--Junior center Kenny Buckner was back on the court against TCU after behind held out of a Jan. 17 loss to Colorado State while the NCAA and Mountain West officials reviewed his eligibility status.

Buckner, a junior-college transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, was cleared to play against the Horned Frogs two days prior to the game and had four points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.

Overall, Buckner is averaging 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds, and the Broncos missed Buckner's presence against Colorado State when they were forced to go with a smaller lineup.

"He's a kid that's made a big jump," Boise State coach Leon Rice told the Idaho Press-Tribune. "He has a toughness about him. He can physically go toe-to-toe with guys in our league."

--The Broncos have already used nine different starting lineups this season after using just eight all last season. Ten different players have started games.

--Boise State is shooting just 31.8 percent from 3-point range in conference play.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Road wins in seven attempts for the Broncos.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's probably one of the biggest challenges that we face -- learning how to win on the road." -- Boise State coach Leon Rice.

--vs. Wyoming, Jan. 28

KEY MATCHUPS: The Cowboys will slow the game down and try to play the contest in the 50s, which isn't Boise State's type of game. The Broncos need a big game from up-and-down Ryan Watkins against stellar Wyoming forward Leonard Washington.

TREND WATCH: Boise State has lost five games in a row, the most consecutive losses under second-year coach Leon Rice. The past four losses have come in conference play to teams with winning records. The Broncos also lost at home for the second time in a row after a 15-game home win streak dating back to last season.

FUTURES MARKET: Boise State's lack of proficient scorers is becoming a problem as the schedule gets tougher. The Broncos had an early-season schedule of home games against inferior opponents and topped 90 points in four of their first eight games. That prompted the illusion they would be a high-scoring team, but the Broncos have scored under 60 in four consecutive games and making shots has become a lot tougher. Boise State needs to add a scorer to the mix for next season to help share the load with Anthony Drmic.

--G Derrick Marks
, who started his second career game against UNLV, scored a career high 21 points in 37 minutes. He also had six rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and five turnovers.
--F Thomas Bropleh recorded the first double-double of his career, posting 17 points and 13 rebounds in the overtime loss to UNLV. The 13 rebounds were a personal best for the sophomore.
--G Jeff Elorriaga will miss the rest of the season after breaking his hand in a loss at TCU on Jan. 21.

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