The Broncos and Aggies virtually matched baskets (not to mention turnovers) in the first half as Boise State went into the locker room ahead 32-31. The Broncos, who averaged less than 10 turnovers a game coming into the game, committed 12 in the opening stanza.
Lew Evans' three-pointer on the first possession of the second half gave Utah State one of their only leads of the game, 32-31, but Lonnie Jackson's layup and free throw restored Boise State's lead at 34-32.
A three-pointer from Nick Duncan and a layup from Thompson finished an 8-0 run for Coach Leon Rice's team that now led 39-32. The Broncos extended the lead to 42-34 on a free throw from Chandler Hutchison before the Aggies closed to 44-42 on a Jalen Moore jumper. Julion Pearre's triple with 13:28 left made it 47-46.
Thompson began to take control, hitting a jumper and then drove the hoop on Boise State's next possession to give the Broncos a 51-46 lead. After another Moore jumper, Boise State began taking care of the ball and getting intelligent shots. A trey from James Webb III opened up a 10-point lead (60-50) and aerial acrobatics from Hutchison on a thunder dunk made it 62-50.
On Boise State's next possession with 6:31 left, Zach Haney showed great individual effort after his initial shot was blocked by Chris Smith. Haney battled hard for the rebound, came down with it, and put it back up for two.
Boise State continued to surge ahead, as Duncan drilled a three-pointer and another Mikey Thompson drive to the basket resulted in two more to give Boise State a 15-point lead, 75-60. On the flip side, the Bronco defense played outstanding perimeter defense, allowing few penetrations in the paint and forcing numerous three-point shots.
Thompson drove in for another layup and hit two free throws in the game's final minutes, and Duncan scored on a nifty drive to the hoop as well.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Mountain West Conference champion Broncos beat USU at Logan on a last-second shot by Derrick Marks. This year, the determined Broncos won by 15. Another notable difference: the Boise State team that went on to win the regular season title started their conference season 0-3, while the Broncos are 2-0 this year.
Thompson led four Broncos in double figures with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. Webb and Hutchison scored 15 each while Duncan finished with 12. Although he did not score tonight, Anthony Drmic led all players with nine rebounds. Drmic passed Matt Nelson (2006-08) for 12th place in career rebound at Boise State with 523.
Moore led the Aggies with a game-high 18 points.
Boise State's shooting provided the impetus for the win, as the Broncos canned 59.6% of their shots (28-47) to 43.9% (25-57) for Utah State. The Bronco players extended that advantage at the free-throw line, where they calmly sank 13-of-17 (76.5%) to 5-of-13 for the Aggies, and also outshot USU from behind the arc, hitting 7-of-17 to 6-of-22 for Utah State.
Boise State is now 11-4 on the year with eight wins in a row, while Utah State drops to 9-5 and 1-2 in conference play.
The Broncos face one of the favorites in the league Saturday as they will entertain rival Fresno State Saturday at 4 p.m. Mountain Time in Taco Bell Arena.
1. 948 Jason Ellis (2001-2005)
2. 814 Ryan Watkins (2010-2014
3. 805 Bill Otey (1968-1970)
4. 767 Bruce Bolden (1981-1985)
5. 702 Trent Johnson (1974-1978)
6. 670 Tanoka Beard (1989-1993)
7. 603 Pat Hoke (1972-1976)
8. 565 Reggie Larry (2006-2008)
9. 557 Danny Jones (1975-1978)
10. 543 Steve Wallace (1970-1972)
11. 525 Abe Jackson (1998-2002)
12. 523 Anthony Drmic (2011-current)
13. 519 Matt Nelson (2006-2008)
14. 507 Coby Karl (2003-2007)
15. 467 Sean McKenna (1975-1979)
16. 464 J.D. Huleen (1993-1997)
17. 459 John Coker (1991-1995)
18. 452 Arnell Jones (1986-1988)