Boise State shocked the country with an impressive 66-56 win over #17 Utah State tonight in front of a fired-up crowd in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos, who were coming off a loss to last-place Fresno State Monday night, did what only one other team in the nation could do--beat the powerful Aggies.
Utah State was the winningest team in the nation at 24-1 and also owned the country's longest winning streak at 19. Boise State was out to prove it could stay with a quality team.
Anthony Thomas got the Broncos off to a quick start with five early points as Boise State held a 7-4 lead. Gary Wilkinson's jumper with 9:56 left in the half gave Utah State their largest lead of the game at 17-11. But Coach Greg Graham's team quickly roared back and, with a dramatic Thomas three-pointer at the buzzer, held a 27-25 halftime lead.
Thomas hit back-to-back threes in the second half to give Boise State a 35-26 lead and the Broncos coasted the rest of the way. Mark Sanchez poured in 20 points and repeatedly hit key baskets to lead Boise State, finishing 8-of-12 shooting on the night while Thomas finished with 18 points including 4-of-9 from three-point range. Reserve forward Sean MImadiyi enjoyed his best game as a Bronco with 3-of-4 shooting, five rebounds (including three on the offensive glass) and two steals. Ike Okoye had two more blocked shots to go along with nine points and seven rebounds. Okoye now has 48 blocks this season, fifth in Bronco history and just one behind former Bronco great John Coker, who rejected 49 shots in the 1994-95 season.
Gary Wilkinson and Jared Quayle each contributed 12 points to lead Utah State. Boise State's defense held the nation's second-best shooting team (50.6%) to just 36.5% and forced an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers. Utah State came into Boise seventh in the country for the fewest turnovers but were stymied all game long by the Broncos.
The upset win was the sixth by the Broncos over a nationally-ranked team in their history. Boise State defeated Fresno State in 1983, Gary Payton and Oregon State in 1988, Washington in 1998, Nevada in 2005 and BYU in 2007.
Boise State advanced to 17-7 with the victory and 7-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, good for a second-place tie with Nevada. Utah State, which clinched at least a tie for the WAC crown with their victory over Idaho, is 12-1 in conference and 24-2 overall.
Idaho comes into Taco Bell Arena Wednesday night trying to sweep the Broncos for the first time in 10 years.