When: Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. CT
Where: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, Idaho
TV/Radio: MW Network – Campus Insider /KAAM 770
Series: SMU leads 5-4 (first meeting as non-conference opponents)
Last meeting: SMU won 80-63 on Feb. 25, 2005
SMU is trying to bounce back from last Friday’s 78-73 loss to USC against Boise State in the Mustangs final non-conference road game before beginning AAC paly. SMU can build a little momentum by knocking of Boise State as the Mustangs will then play six straight at home. SMU is playing fairly well through the first six games of the season. Five Mustangs average double digits in scoring: Semi Ojeleye (19.3), Shake Milton (12.0), Sterling Brown (11.3), Ben Moore (10.8), and Jarrey Foster (10.0). SMU has also out rebounded every opponent in 2016 and has a conference leading, plus-13.2 rebound margin through its first six contests.
Breaking Down Boise State
Is there any way we can postpone the game for a day? Boise State is pretty dang good at the Taco Bell Arena in November. Under Leon Rice the past seven seasons, the Broncos are 21-0 at home in the month of November. They haven’t lost at home since 2007 and is 42-2 overall in nonconference home games. So there is that. But—and this is a big but—Boise State is also incredibly young. The Broncos have five freshman on this year’s roster which could be a huge reason for their .500 start to the season. Furthermore, seven members of this year’s team hadn’t worn a Broncos uniform until the season opener (four freshmen, one junior college transfer, and two others who sat out last season).
Boise State players to watch
F Nick Duncan: He is Boise State’s second leading scorer and he plays with a ton of heart. Last week he missed the entire first half against Mississippi State when he suffered a cut that required eight stitches. He later returned to the game in the 16:04 remaining in the second half, where he scored all 12 of his points. He is also a career 38 percent 3-point shooter.
G Chandler Hutchinson: The junior guard was named to the 2016 Charleston Classic All-Tournament team after he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds over three games of tournament play. He has three games this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
G Paris Austin: Over his last four outings, Austin is averaging 14.5 points per game. He has scored at least 12 points in each of those games including a career-high of 17 against Western Michigan. That night he shot 6-for-6 from the field and was 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
Projected Boise starting lineup:
G Paris Austin (11.0 PPG, 2.7 APG)
G Justinian Jessup (9.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG 40.7 3FG%)
G Chandler Hutchinson (16.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 57.7 FG%)
F Nick Duncan (11.3 PPG, 40.9 3FG%)
F David Wacker (3.7 PPG, 4.5 RBG)
Projected SMU starting lineup:
G Shake Milton (12.0 PPG, 4.3 APG)
G Jarrey Foster (10.0 PPG, 63 FG%)
G Sterling Brown (11.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.7 APG)
F Ben Moore (10.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG)
F Semi Ojeleye (19.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 51 FG%)
Matchup to Watch
SMU’s perimeter defense vs Nick Duncan: Duncan is one of those big guys that can actually shoot from long distance and not in the way that some do before games or once in a blue moon—he is a career 38 percent 3-point shooter and has made 197 threes (ranks 7th in school history). The challenge with him is that he is 6-8, 265 pounds and demands a bigger bodied defender. But with Duncan drawing out SMU’s bigs, who is going to help protect the rim?
Keys to the game
Defending the 3-pointer and limiting Boise State to one shot per possession: Boise State love the 3-ball. Since Rice took over, the Broncos have lived and died by the three. Boise State is 80-28 when making at least eight 3-pointers in a game. They are 45-47 when making fewer than eight. This season, SMU has shot better from behind the arc than Boise State (.384 to .326) but the Broncos have also attempted more than the Mustangs (138 to 112). Like I mentioned earlier, SMU has a plus-13.2 rebounding margin, but Boise State is a solid rebounding team in its own right with a plus-6.5 margin. If Boise State isn’t hitting its 3-pointers, SMU needs to make sure that the Broncos don’t get the opportunities to take second looks or set back up for an easier high-percentage shot.