The scheduling chaos caused by COVID-19 postponements led to the Boise State and New Mexico men’s basketball teams meeting earlier than expected.
The Broncos were originally slated to travel to New Mexico on Feb. 8, but the Lobos’ schedule opened up after San Diego State had to postpone their Saturday matchup because of COVID-19-related concerns within the Aztecs’ program.
That opened the door for the Lobos to host the Broncos at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at The Pit. The Mountain West game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, or listen on the radio at 93.1 FM.
Earlier this week, Boise State’s contest against Utah State, which was postponed because of COVID-19 issues for the Broncos, was rescheduled for Jan. 20, setting up a daunting stretch for the Broncos in which they face five teams in five different states over 11 days.
“One of the keys to climbing these big mountains like we have to climb with game after game after game is just staying in the moment and doing the task at hand, whatever’s next,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “That’s the thing I want our guys to understand is that we don’t start looking at the top of the mountain, we just look at the next step.”
To help keep the team fresh and allow for more practice time, the Broncos will take a charter flight to and from Albuquerque. They’ll focus on making sure players get plenty of rest, stretch and stay hydrated. The team also took Thursday off.
“We control our minds,” Rice said. “We take care of the things we can control, because when you’re on the road and we’re playing these games, you’re going to run into things you can’t control.”
The Broncos began the 11-day gauntlet with an 85-70 win at Nevada on Wednesday — their first victory in Reno in nearly six years — extending their winning streak to eight games.
Now the Broncos play at another tough venue where they are just 2-7 all-time. The Pit has the fifth-best homecourt advantage among all Division I venues, according to KenPom.com. Boise State’s only wins in Albuquerque were by two points in 2018 and a 10-point win in 2015. Both games were played in front of crowds of more than 11,000, including 15,206 in 2015.
Tensions always seem to run high when the Broncos are at The Pit, where the benches cleared after Boise State’s 2018 win, and Rice was once spit on while exiting the arena.
“You’ve got to be prepared for it, and you’ve got to be tough enough to handle it,” Rice said. “You’ve gotta have your minds right to do it. You’re not just showing up and strolling in there and getting it done. No doubt.”
BOISE STATE AT NEW MEXICO
When: 3:30 p.m. MT Saturday
Where: The Pit (15,411), Albuquerque, New Mexico
TV: Fox Sports 1 (J.B. Long, Steve Lavin). That’s DirecTV channel 219, DISH Network channel 150 and Sparklight channel 146.
Radio: 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Abe Jackson)
Records: Boise State 11-4, 2-0 MW; New Mexico 7-9, 0-3 MW
Series: New Mexico 12-8
Last meeting: Boise State defeated New Mexico 89-52 on Dec. 23, 2020, in Boise
Vegas line: Boise State by 8.5
KenPom rating: Boise State 40; New Mexico 219
KenPom & ESPN predictions
Ken Pomeroy, who created the popular college basketball statistical website KenPom.com, ranks every Division I team using an adjusted efficiency margin, which Pomeroy defines as the difference between a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency.
According to Pomeroy’s detailed statistical analysis, Boise State has an 81% chance of beating New Mexico. His score prediction is a 77-67 Boise State victory.
ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index: Boise State has an 87.6% chance of winning with a predicted point differential of 13.1.
Women’s basketball: Broncos fall at UNLV
In a game marred by 50 combined fouls, UNLV handed Boise State a 73-51 loss in Mountain West action Thursday at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
UNLV junior guard Essence Booker dropped a career-high 28 points on the Broncos (5-10, 1-3 MW), who went just 1-for-10 from the floor in the first quarter and trailed 35-17 at the half on 4-for-22 shooting.
Nine Broncos scored in the loss, but none in double figures. Fifth-year senior Dominique Leonidas led the way with nine points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Sophomore Abby Muse and freshmen Trista Hull and Linsey Lovrovich added eight points apiece, and Hull was the Broncos’ top rebounder with nine.
UNLV (12-4, 4-1) outrebounded Boise State 44-33 and held the Broncos to 26.4% shooting overall, including an 0-for-7 mark from 3-point range.
Boise State is on the road again Saturday at San Diego State. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. MT, and the game will be streamed live on the Mountain West Network, which is available online at broncosports.com/mwn. A radio broadcast is available on 670 AM.
Note: Boise State’s game at Wyoming scheduled for Jan. 25 has been moved to Jan. 26. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. in Laramie and the game will be broadcast on the Mountain West Network.
WOMEN: UNLV 73, BOISE ST. 51
BOISE ST. (5-10, 1-3 MW): Dominique Leonidas 2-6 5-6 9; Linsey Lovrovich 2-7 4-5 8; Abby Muse 2-3 4-6 8; Trista Hull 2-8 4-5 8; Elodie Lalotte 3-12 0-0 6; Rachel Bowers 1-2 2-2 4; Jayda Clark 1-7 2-2 4; Anna Ostlie 1-4 0-0 2; Mary Kay Naro 1-4 0-0 2; Naro, Mackenzie 0-0 0-0 0; Sydney McQuietor 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 15-57 21-26 51.
UNLV (12-4, 4-1 MW): Essence Booker 6-13 14-14 28; Nneka Obiazor 5-11 3-4 13; Desi-Rae Young 5-10 0-0 10; Justice Ethridge 1-5 3-3 5; Kiara Jackson 2-2 1-2 5; Keyana Wilfred 1-1 3-4 5; Alyssa Brown 2-2 0-0 4; Alyssa Durazo-Fresca 1-4 0-0 3; Khayla Rooks 0-4 0-0 0; Jade Thomas 0-1 0-0 0; Kenadee Winfrey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-54 24-27 73.
Boise St...................... 5 12 18 16 — 51
UNLV.......................... 16 19 22 16 — 73
3-point goals — Boise St. 0-7 (Hull 0-2; Clark 0-4; Ostlie 0-1), UNLV 3-16 (Booker 2-5; Durazo-Fresca 1-4; Ethridge 0-2; Rooks 0-4; Thomas 0-1). Fouled out — Boise St.-Hull, UNLV-Young. Rebounds — Boise St. 33 (Hull 9), UNLV 44 (Obiazor 9). Assists — Boise St. 4 (Leonidas 2), UNLV 10 (Jackson 2; Wilfred 2; Rooks 2). Total fouls — Boise St. 25, UNLV 25. Technical fouls — None. A — 454.