The Broncos (9-6, 1-2 WAC) are hosting their first two WAC home games this week when the Utah State Aggies (6-9, 2-1 WAC) come to town for a Thursday night encounter, followed by the Nevada Wolf Pack (11-4, 2-0 WAC) on Saturday. Both games are scheduled to tip at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain) in Taco Bell Arena.
Thursday’s game with Utah State will be the 14th meeting all-time in the series in which the Broncos hold a 11-2 advantage. Last year’s conference series was swept by Boise State. Saturday’s encounter with Nevada will be the 35th meeting in the series. The Broncos have dominated the series going 26-8 all-time versus the Wolf Pack. They split the two games last season with the home team winning both meetings.
When Boise State steps out onto the court this Thursday night against Utah State it will have been 33 days since they last played at home. The Broncos defeated Sacramento State 87-60 on Dec.15 in the arena and have gone 2-2 on the road since that game. Boise State is undefeated at home this season and have been impressive in their five victories to date winning by an average of 13.6 points per game. In fact, in the last 180 minutes (nine periods out of ten) played in Taco Bell Arena the Broncos have trailed a combined 37 seconds and have not trailed in the last three home games.
Lately For The Broncos...
Boise State opened conference action going 1-2 on the road. The Broncos started off with two disappointing conference games to open league play. In both games the Broncos dug themselves a huge hole then battled back only to fade down the stretch.
They opened WAC play by dropping a 10-point decision, 73-63, at Fresno State on Jan. 5. They fell behind by 21 points, 41-20, early in the second half. After trading baskets and the score reading 43-23, Boise State rallied on a 25-0 run to claim a five point, 48-43, lead. Unfortunately, the Broncos ran out of gas following the run as Fresno State regrouped and slowly pulled away late in the game to claim the victory.
The second game was at New Mexico State, Jan. 10, where the Broncos started the final half slow. The Aggies broke a one-point, 33-32, game at the half opened in the second period. NMSU claimed a 16-point, 59-43, lead with 9:13 to play. Like at Fresno, Boise State rallied running off a 18-3 run to pull within one, 62-61, with 4:27 left in regulation. Unfortunately, for the second consecutive game the blue and orange faded down the stretch missing free throws combined with critical turnovers. Meanwhile, the Aggies finished the game with fast breaks and converting on nine-of-11 free throws.
The last time out was Saturday, Jan. 12, when Boise State regrouped to defeat Louisiana Tech 85-68. They became the first league opponent in Lady Techsters history to win in Ruston in two consecutive seasons. This time the Broncos took an early lead and never relinquished it. They led by 10 at the half then stretched it to 22 in the second period before settling for the 17-point victory. The win was the first road victory in conference recorded by any WAC team this season.
Looking at the Boise State Broncos . . .
Entering the week Boise State has gone 9-6 overall and 1-2 in WAC action which places them in a tie for fifth place in the conference standings. They returned three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s Western Athletic Conference championship team. They also add added eight new faces to the squad. After struggling initially going 3-3 early, the Broncos slowly found their way finishing the non-conference slate at 8-4. Included in Boise State’s non-conference results is a 4-0 record against teams that went to postseason tournaments last year (3-0 vs. NCAA Tournament and 1-0 vs. WNIT).
Boise State is the defending Western Athletic Conference champions after going 12-4 in league play last season. They set a school record for overall wins after finishing 24-9 during the 2006-07 campaign highlighted by the WAC’s regular season and tournament titles, and a NCAA Tournament first round appearance where they lost 76-67 to George Washington. This year’s Boise State team was picked to repeat their conference championship in 2008 by both the league’s coaches and media.
Who To Watch For The Broncos . . .
Boise State has arguably the best backcourt combination in the Western Athletic Conference in juniors Tasha Harris and Jessica Thompson. The two guard combo enters the week ranked first and fourth respectively in the WAC for scoring and average a combined 33 points per game, or nearly half of Boise State’s total of 72.6 per game.
Harris starts at the point guard position where she has scored double-figure points in every game and has led the Broncos in scoring eight times. She enters this week leading the WAC in scoring at 16.6 points per game (NCAA 85th) to go with 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists (WAC 3rd), and 1.7 steals (WAC 13th). Harris was also a 2007 WAC Preseason All-WAC Second Team honoree.
Thompson is the WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year. The junior starts at the shooting guard position where she has led the team in scoring six times and is ranked fourth in the WAC at 16.1 points per game. She had recorded double-digit points in every game (13) until being held to eight at New Mexico State. In addition, she averages 4.5 boards, 2.0 assists, and 2.5 steals (WAC 3rd).
Offensively As A Team . . .
Boise State is an up-tempo team who looks to push the ball up the floor. The Broncos feature the WAC’s top ranked scoring offense averaging 72.6 points per game (NCAA 41st) on 39 percent (WAC 5th) shooting from the floor, 31.7 percent (WAC 5th) from three-point range, and 69.4 percent (WAC 3rd) from the foul line. They are ranked 26th nationally for three-pointers per game at 7.0 per contest.
Defensively As A Team . . .
Defensively, Boise State allows 68.6 points per game to rank sixth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 40.1 percent (WAC 4th) from the court and 32.4 percent (WAC 5th) from long range. Boise State is a +2.7 (WAC 5th) in rebound margin, 42.4 to 39.7 rpg. The Broncos are forcing 18.5 turnovers per game (WAC 6th) while giving it away 16.3 times per game (WAC t-2nd), they are third in the WAC for turnover margin at +2.2.
Scouting Game 16
Utah State (6-9, 2-1 WAC) at Boise State (9-6, 1-2 WAC)
7:00 p.m. (Mountain) Thursday, Jan. 17 Boise, Idaho (Taco Bell Arena)
The Series . . .
Thursday’s meeting will be the 14th all-time in the series between the Broncos and Aggies. Boise State holds a commanding lead in the series at 11-2. The Broncos have won four straight over the Aggies since USU joined the WAC in 2005-06. Last year Boise State won 80-70 at Logan and 80-38 in Boise.
A Quick Look At Utah State . . .
The Aggies enter the week in fourth place at 2-1 in league play and 6-9 overall. They opened WAC action with two consecutive home victories over San Jose State (68-58) and Hawai’i (55-48). They lost a New Mexico State (71-56) their last time out on Saturday, Jan.12. Utah State went 4-8 in non-conference action heading into league play.
Utah State has gone 39-87 since reinstituting the program five years ago under the direction of head coach Raegan Pebley. The Aggies returned three starters and nine letterwinners from last season’s squad that went 7-9 in league to place sixth and 11-18 overall.
This year’s Utah State team was picked to place seventh by both the conference’s coaches and media.
Statistically For The Aggies . . .
As a Team: Utah State entered the week with the seventh ranked scoring offense on the year in the WAC averaging 61.5 points per game while giving up 62.8 ppg (WAC 3rd). The Aggies have been shooting 38.2 percent (WAC 7th) from the floor, 35.8 percent from 3-point range (WAC 1st), and 73.7 percent (WAC 1st) from the free-throw line. Utah State averages 33 boards per game (WAC 9th). Defensively, opponents have shot 43.3 percent (WAC 8th) from the court and 35.8 percent (WAC 9th) from the arc.
Who to Watch: Utah State has two players averaging double-digit points on the year. The backcourt tandem of Danyelle Snelgro and Taylor Richards are both scoring 10.1 points per game to rank 15th and 16th in the WAC in scoring. Jamelah Brown is third in points at 8.3 per game. On the boards Brown leads the team at 5.7 rebounds per game (WAC t-14th) followed by Jenny Gross at 4.8 rpg (WAC 20th).
Miscellaneous Notes . . .
► Boise State has won all four previous WAC encounters versus Utah State by an average of 25.8 points per game.
► In the four conference games to date, the Broncos have scored and average of 76 points per game including 80 points in both games last season.
► The Broncos have held Utah State to an average of 50.3 points per game during their four league meetings. The Aggies have been held to 38 points in both games at Taco Bell Arena, 70-38 on Jan. 12, 2006 and 80-38 the last time they played Boise State on Jan. 24, 2007.
► Boise State had five players average double figure points against Utah State last season. However, only Jessica Thompson returns this year after recording 22.5 points per game versus USU in 2006-07.
► Danyelle Snelgro is the only Aggie back from last year that averaged double digit points versus the Broncos. She led the team at 11.5 ppg.
► Last year Boise State shot 50 percent from the floor and 3-point arc (13-26), and 79.5 percent (31-39) from the free-throw line in the two-game series. Utah State hit 35.7 percent from the court, 25.7 percent (9-35) from the arc, and 67.9 percent (19-28) from the charity stripe.
Scouting Game 17
Nevada (11-4, 2-0 WAC) at Boise State (9-6, 1-2 WAC)
7:00 p.m. (Mountain) Saturday, Jan. 19 Boise, Idaho (Taco Bell Arena)
The Series . . .
Saturday’s meeting will be the 35th all-time in the series between the Broncos and Wolf Pack. Boise State has dominated the series holding a 26-8 lead. The two half split the last six encounters with the home team winning each time. Last season the Broncos won 68-65 in Boise while Nevada won 81-70 in overtime at Reno.
A Quick Look At Nevada . . .
Nevada is one of the hottest teams in the league going 11-4 overall and 2-0 in WAC action. They opened league play with two home victories last week over San Jose State (72-51) and Hawai’i (75-65).
Nevada is in its fifth season under the direction of head coach Kim Gervasoni. The Wolf Pack returned three starters and 11 letterwinners from last year’s team that went 10-6 in league to place tied for third and 17-15 overall. They advanced to the WNIT where they lost in the first round at eventual champion Wyoming 84-56.
This year’s Nevada team was picked to place second by the conference’s coaches, while the media projected a third place finish.
Statistically For Nevada . . .
As a Team: Nevada entered the week featuring the third ranked scoring offense on the year in the WAC averaging 69.2 points per game while giving up a league best 61.7 ppg. The Wolf Pack have been shooting 40.3 percent (WAC 4th) from the floor, 34.1 percent from 3-point range (WAC 3rd), and 68.3 percent (WAC 4th) from the free-throw line. Nevada averages 36.7 boards per game (WAC 7th). Defensively, opponents have shot 41.2 percent (WAC 5th) from the court and 31.1 percent (WAC 2nd) from the arc.
Who to Watch: Nevada has two players averaging double-digit points this season. Like Boise State and Utah State, the Wolf Pack is led by their backcourt in seniors Dellena Criner who leads in scoring at 16.4 points per game (WAC 3rd) and Mikail Price who adds 10.9 ppg (WAC 12th). On the boards Cherlanda Franklin leads the team at 4.9 rebounds per game (WAC 19th) followed by Brandi Fitzgerald at 4.5 rpg.
Miscellaneous Notes . . .
► Nevada is the fifth and final team Boise State will face this year that went to the postseason last year. The Broncos are 4-0 this season against four previous opponents that played late into March in 2007. Nevada represented the WAC in the WNIT during the 2007 tournament.
► Boise State and Nevada have been in four different conferences together since 1987. The Mountain West Athletic Conference 1987-88, Big Sky 1988-92, Big West 1996-00,and the WAC 2001-present.
► Last year Nevada averaged 73 points per game to Boise State’s 69. The Wolf Pack out rebounded the Broncos by an average of seven boards a game in the series 37.5 rpg to Boise State’s 30.5 rpg.
► Boise State won the first meeting in 2007 in Boise by the score of 68-65. Short Jessica Thompson, Boise’s leading scorer, in the return match the Broncos lost in overtime 81-70 in Reno.
► It wasn’t pretty last year. The two teams combined for and average of 46 turnovers per game. In the two games Boise State gave it away 23.0 times while Nevada countered with 23.5 times per game.
► They also combined for 89 fouls or 44.5 per game. There were 93 free throw attempts, the Broncos went 38-50 (.760) to the Wolf Pack’s 31-43 (.721).
► Last year Boise State was led by Tasha Harris who averaged 20 points per game versus the Wolf Pack. Meanwhile, Nevada was led by Dellena Criner who averaged 19.5 points in the two games played against the Broncos.