Inside Slant: Boise State Basketball

Boise State will try for its first conference win Monday night when the Broncos play at rival Idaho in a game being televised nationally on ESPNU. The Broncos (9-11 overall, 0-7 WAC) were swept by their in-state rivals last season, a sweep that stopped a streak of 16 wins in a row over the Vandals. This year's game has plenty at stake.

GETTING INSIDE

Boise State will try for its first conference win Monday night when the Broncos play at rival Idaho in a game being televised nationally on ESPNU.

The Broncos (9-11 overall, 0-7 WAC) were swept by their in-state rivals last season, a sweep that stopped a streak of 16 wins in a row over the Vandals.

This year's game has plenty at stake. A win by the Broncos could lift them out of last place in the WAC should Idaho fall to Utah State on Saturday. The Vandals have only one conference win this season.

Boise State's seven-game losing streak is a school record for most losses in a row to start conference play. It's also the longest streak since 2001-02, when ex-coach Rod Jensen's squad also lost seven in a row.

Boise State also has lost three home games in a row for the first time since 2001-02, which was the Broncos' first season in the WAC.

NEVADA 88, BOISE STATE 82: Despite four players reaching double figures, host Boise State couldn't record their first conference win of the season against the Wolf Pack. Reggie Arnold (21 points), Anthony Thomas (19), Ike Okoye (16) and Daequon Montreal (13) gave BSU the balance it seeks on offense, but the Broncos had no answers for Nevada's Luke Babbitt. The sophomore scored 29 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Brandon Fields scored 21 points for the Wolf Pack.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Boise State's season is unraveling, and the Broncos don't appear to have any easy answers.

They aren't playing particularly good defense, don't have a go-to scorer and their confidence could certainly be waning after dropping to 0-7 in the conference.

Basically, it looks as if Boise State has a collection of good players who just aren't capable of keeping pace in an improved WAC that has several elite players.

Boise State fell to 9-11 overall with an 88-82 loss to Nevada on Wednesday.

"We're just having a hard time playing the whole 40 minutes," forward Reggie Arnold said recently in the Idaho Statesman.

--Boise State wasn't helping itself at the free throw line, entering this week ranked seventh in the nine-team WAC with a percentage of 69.2. In a two-point loss to San Jose State on Jan. 14, the Broncos were a miserable 7 of 16 from the line.

--Boise State is 0-16 all-time against Utah State in Logan, Utah.

ON THE SPOT: It's hard to single out one or two players, but the Broncos need to play better collective defense. In their first six WAC games -- all losses -- they were allowing 78.5 points per game and allowing teams to shoot a staggering 50.3 percent from the field.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The big thing is not to cash it in. We've got to hang in there. Perseverance is the name of the game." -- Coach Greg Graham, after the Jan. 16 loss at Utah State.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SEASON RECAP: The nonconference season went OK, but Boise State wasn't often tested. With three returning starters, plus the addition of junior college transfers Robert Arnold and Daequon Montreal in the frontcourt, the Broncos figured to be competitive in the WAC on the heels of a season in which they went 9-7 in the league, but Boise State has slid while much of the rest of the WAC is improved.

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

GAME REVIEW:
Louisiana Tech 79, Boise State 64
San Jose State 76, Boise State 74
Utah State 81, Boise State 59
Nevada 88, Boise State 82

GAME PREVIEW:
at Idaho, Monday, Jan. 25
vs. Fresno State, Saturday, Jan. 30
vs. Idaho, Saturday, Feb. 6
vs. Utah State, Thursday, Feb. 11

IN FOCUS: Boise State continues to allow teams to shoot a high percentage from the field. Nevada made 55 percent of its shots against the Broncos to become the fourth WAC team to shoot better than 50 percent against coach Greg Graham's team. All seven WAC foes have made 45 percent or better against the Broncos.

ROSTER REPORT:
--G Anthony Thomas scored a season-high 19 points in a loss to Nevada. The senior needs 86 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
--F Ike Okoye recorded his team-best fourth double-double of the season when he scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a loss to Nevada.
--G Nate Larsen, a senior walk-on, scored the first two points of his career in a loss at Utah State on Jan. 16.


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