Runnin' Broncos Top UNLV, Play Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Boise State put together their best game of the season when it mattered the most. Can the Broncos keep rolling against a tough Wisconsin-Milwaukee team?

The Boise State basketball team ran out to a 15-2 lead en route to an 84-69 first-round NIT victory over UNLV tonight at the Boise State Pavilion. (Click here for a slide-show reserved exclusively for friends/guests.)  Bryan DeFares set a Boise State record with 13 assists to key the win for the Broncos, who improve to 22-9 on the season. Aaron Haynes led the Broncos with 20 points, Jermaine Blackburn had 15 and Jason Ellis scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while DeFares and Coby Karl were also in double digits in scoring.. Coach Graham and his team now turn their attention to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a 91-63 winner over Rice tonight. Boise State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee will play at 7:30 Saturday night in the Idaho Center in Nampa .

Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a dangerous team, as their 20-10 record indicates. The group from Wisconsin compiled a 13-3 record in winning the tough Horizon League regular season. The Horizon is the same league that gave us Cleveland State, Youngstown State and Wisonsin-Green Bay, 3 teams that have made news in past NCAA tournaments. They are rated #87 in the Sagarin ratings (compared to the Broncos at #59) published in USA Today. However, Rice was #60 before being pulverized (fried, cooked...) by the Panthers tonight. They have played several games of note—consider:

  •  A narrow 81-77 loss to Southern Illinois , a 25-4 team in the NCAA Tournament

  • An 86-82 win over Valparaiso, an NCAA team as well

  • A 78-62 win over Illinois-Chicago, yet another NCAA team

The Panthers also lost to Illinois-Chicago 86-82 during the regular season and again in the Conference championship, 65-62. They lost road games to #17 North Carolina State by 6, 77-71, to #10 Wisconsin 89-71 and to Air Force 71-49. They also beat Montana 95-83 and Idaho State 85-70.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee is led by Senior Forward Dylan Page (6-8, 225), the #17 scorer in the nation, with a 21.0 average. Page does everything, hitting 51.3% of his shots (200-390), 78.9% of his free-throws (116-147) and 40.7% from three-point land, (50-123). Page also is the leading rebounder with 176 and has 33 blocked shots to his credit. Page led the Panther attack against Rice with 22 points and has a career high of 35. He was named to the All-Horizon League team the past two seasons and the tournament MVP last year. Page is the school's 5th best career rebounder and ranks 6th in career blocked shots.

Junior Guard Ed McCants (6-3, 195) gives the Panthers a tough inside-outside game; he's averaging 16.9 ppg, hitting clutch free throws with the game on the line (82.5%) and nailing the three (85-204 for 41.7%). McCants also was first-team All-Horizon Conference this season. He poured in 21 in the win over Rice last night. Sophomore Guard Chris Hill (5-10, 160) will play the point and Senior Kalombo Kadima (6-2, 185) will also play quite a bit.

Sophomore Joah Tucker plays the other forward position, and he's averaging 13.3, hitting 52.7% of his shots (129-245). Sophomore Adrian Tigert (6-6, 230) will see a lot of playing time—he hits an amazing 61.6% of his shots, averages 6.3 points per game, and has 167 rebounds, while Senior Nate Mielke (6-11, 220) is a threat underneath with 29 blocked shots. Mielke ranks 4th all-time for the Panthers in that department.

Looks like the Broncos have a major test awaiting them Saturday night…and another great game in store for Boise Valley basketball fans. Get your tickets by calling the BSU ticket office (426-4737), stopping at any Select-A-Seat outlet or by visiting and let's root the Broncos on against Wisconsin-Milwaukee!

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