Inside Slant: Boise State Basketball

This year's Boise State team is already in the record books, only it's not the type of record that coach Greg Graham was hoping for. With an 0-5 start in WAC play, Boise State matched the school record for the slowest start in conference action. The 1980-81 squad had the same mark in the Big Sky Conference. The scary proposition for the Broncos is..

Boise State matched the school record for the slowest start in conference action. The 1980-81 squad had the same mark in the Big Sky Conference. The scary proposition for the Broncos (9-9 overall) is they will look to stop the slide at the toughest of the WAC's home courts -- Utah State's Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Boise State never has won at Utah State.

If the Broncos can't win in Logan, Utah, they would fall below .500 for the first time since Nov. 16, 2007, when they began the year 1-2 but finished 25-9 and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994.
Following the game at Utah State, the Broncos return home for a game against Nevada and then complete the first half of the WAC season at rival Idaho.

SAN JOSE STATE 76, BOISE STATE 74: Anthony Thomas' put-back that would have forced overtime was ruled to have come after time expired, and the visiting Broncos saw their 14-game winning streak against San Jose State snapped. Daequon Montreal led Boise State with 19 points, while La'Shard Anderson added 15 points. Ike Okoye chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds. San Jose State's Adrian Oliver scored 33 points and made all 12 of his foul shots.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Cold-shooting Boise State fell behind midway through the first half Monday and couldn't catch up to Louisiana Tech on Monday, falling 79-64 at Taco Bell Arena. Reggie Arnold led the Broncos in scoring for the second game in a row, tallying 18 points to lead three Boise State players in double figures. Anthony Thomas matched a season-high with 15 points, while Kurt Cunningham chipped in 10. Boise State made only 38.2 percent of its shots in the loss.

--Boise State was shooting 30.8 percent from behind the arc (84 of 273) through Jan. 10, 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.

They rallied from a nine-point deficit to take a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play, 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 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.

--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: Boise State lost another game Thursday because of poor free-throw shooting. After making only 12 of 22 in a three-point loss to New Mexico State, the Broncos went 7-for-16 in a two-point loss at San Jose State. Prior to WAC play, Boise State had been shooting better than 70 percent from the foul line.

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
Louisiana Tech 79, Boise State 64
San Jose State 76, Boise State 74

GAME PREVIEW:
at Utah State, Saturday, Jan. 16
vs. Nevada, Wednesday, Jan. 20
at Idaho, Monday, Jan. 25

IN FOCUS: Boise State has plenty of issues -- defense being at the top of the list. The Broncos had allowed WAC opponents to make 45 percent of their field goals or better in the first four conference games this season.

ROSTER REPORT:
--F Paul Noonan returned to action at San Jose State after missing two games because of an ankle sprain. He played 21 minutes and scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range.
--F Daequon Montreal made his first start of the season against San Jose State and scored a team-high 19 points. Montreal made nine of 12 shots from the field.
--G Anthony Thomas, who had been averaging more than 10 points in conference play, scored only four on 1-of-8 shooting against San Jose State. The senior did have five assists, eight rebounds and only turnover in the loss


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