Inside Slant: Boise State Basketball

Boise State sank to the bottom of the early WAC standings, and don't expect the Broncos to shoot their way out. Boise State is shooting 30.8 percent from behind the arc (84 of 273), ranking last in the league in that category. That's one of the issues for the Broncos, who dropped to 0-3 in the league with an 88-85 home loss to New Mexico State on Saturday.


Boise State  rallied from a nine-point deficit to take a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play against New Mexico State, but turnovers and missed 3-point looks doomed Boise State to another conference loss.
"Just couldn't knock them down," coach Greg Graham said of the late shots.

On the plus side, Boise State (9-7 overall) can be encouraged by the contributions of two junior college transfers -- forwards Daequon Montreal and Robert Arnold

Montreal, coming off the bench, entered the week averaging a team-best 17.3 points in three conference games. Arnold had his highest scoring output with 26 points against New Mexico State, although his season-long 27.3 percent shooting from behind the arc (15 of 55) was a microcosm of the team's woes.

With a Monday game against red-hot Louisiana Tech, things weren't going to get any easier.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Broncos had never started 0-3 in the WAC before. The last time they were winless through their first three conference games was in the 1999-2000 season, when Boise State was in the Big West under coach Rod Jensen.

--It was easy to point to late game failures against New Mexico State on Jan. 9 as a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play turned into a three-point loss. Another culprit, across the entire game, was poor free throw shooting. The Broncos were 12 of 22 for the game. They also had 10 second-half turnovers. "Those are two things that we can take care of, and that's why I'm optimistic that we can get over the hump," coach Greg Graham said.

ON THE SPOT: Senior guard Anthony Thomas, who averaged 9.5 points per game last season and made 37.9 percent of his 3-pointers, hasn't played up to his capabilities this season. All his numbers, including his assist average, is down. Thomas was averaging 6.6 points through 16 games and shooting 29.5 percent from 3-point range. The former WAC Freshman of the Year, is capable of more as Boise State needs to bounce back from three close losses to being league play.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to play all 40 minutes, not 38 or 37." -- PF Ike Okoye, after the 88-85 loss to New Mexico State.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP: Boise State wasn't often tested in the nonconference season and then struggled as conference play began. The Broncos juggled the lineup on Jan. 4 in a loss at Hawaii, with Anthony Thomas at the point and forward Paul Noonan entering the starting group in place of guard La'Shard Anderson. Noonan missed the next game, against New Mexico State, with an ankle injury. 

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- PG Anthony Thomas, G La'Shard Anderson, SF Robert Arnold, PF Ike Okoye, C Kurt Cunningham. Key Subs -- SF Paul Noonan, F Daequon Montreal, C Zack Moritz

GAME REVIEW:
Fresno State 71, Boise State 68
Hawaii 76, Boise State 68
New Mexico State 88, Boise State 85

GAME PREVIEW:
vs. Louisiana Tech, Monday, Jan. 11
at San Jose State, Thursday, Jan. 14
at Utah State, Saturday, Jan. 16
vs. Nevada, Wednesday, Jan. 20
at Idaho, Monday, Jan. 25

IN FOCUS: The San Jose State game represents a decent chance for a win even though it's on the road. The Broncos won both meetings last season, taking advantage of the Spartans' porous defense. BSU shot well over 50 percent in each game, making 66 of 119 shots (55.5 percent) in the two games.

ROSTER REPORT:
--F Paul Noonan missed the New Mexico State game on Jan. 9 because of a sprained ankle and was considered day-to-day.
--Junior G Wes Perryman underwent surgery on both ankles because of bone spurs. Perryman, who will miss the rest of the season, averaged 3.6 points in eight games, including two starts. He should be able to gain a medical redshirt, restoring his season of eligibility.
--C Kurt Cunningham entered the week third in the WAC in field goal percentage, hitting 59.1 percent (55 of 93).


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