Boise State (6-3) completes a three-game stretch against the Pacific-10 Conference Wednesday night when they travel to Tucson, Ariz. to face the Arizona Wildcats (4-4) at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain). The pre-Christmas schedule will conclude on Saturday (Dec. 15) when Boise State host the Big Sky’s Sacramento State at 7:00 p.m. in Taco Bell Arena.
Boise State has never won three back-to-back games against the PAC-10 which a win on Wednesday would give them. Saturday’s game against Sac State will be the last home contest for the Broncos for a month. Boise State’s next home appearance will be on Jan. 17 when they host their first Western Athletic Conference home game against Utah State.
Lately For The Broncos...
Boise State has won three straight and enters this week’s action at 6-3 overall tied for the second best record in the WAC. The Broncos opened last week with a sound 73-64 victory over Oral Roberts in Boise on Monday night. Boise State jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead and never looked back. The Broncos followed that up win a dominating 88-66 home performance over Washington on Friday snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Huskies. On Sunday, Boise State claimed their third victory of the week rallying from a 16-point second half deficit to defeat former Bronco head coach June Daugherty’s Washington State squad 71-64 on the road. The win over the Cougars marked the first time since the 1993-94 season, when Daugherty coached the Broncos, that Boise State had won back-to-back games over PAC-10 schools, it also ended a six game losing streak to WSU.
During the week Boise State was led by Jessica Thompson, this week’s WAC Player of the Week, in scoring with team high points in every contest. The WAC’s 2007 Preseason Player of the Year averaged 18.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 3.0 steals. Tasha Harris averaged 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.3 steals. Both players kept their scoring streaks alive recording double figure points in every game this season to date.
Looking at the Boise State Broncos (6-3) . . .
The Broncos are 6-3 overall entering the week’s competition. With eight new faces on the team and some early injuries, Boise State struggled to get going this season. They opened with two solid home wins over Loyola Marymount (71-67) and Montana (70-64), then stumbled on the road losing their first three "away" games at Santa Clara (73-51), Saint Mary’s (78-63), and Portland (84-80). Their lone "road" victory was at neutral site victory over Cal State Bakersfield (83-53) at Saint Mary’s.
The Portland game marked the beginning of Boise State’s resurgence as a team. As the players began to gel and figure out their roles, the team as begun to roll. Against the Pilots the Broncos played solid showing major improvements on the offensive side of the ball. Then last week the Blue started putting it all together sweeping thru three games with dominating wins at home over Oral Roberts (73-64) and Washington (88-66), the Broncos never trailed in either game. Then on Sunday Boise State claimed their first win on an opponent’s floor defeating Washington State 71-64 on Sunday.
Boise State is currently undefeated at home this season going 4-0 to date. The Broncos’ four wins has moved their record to 25-6 at home in Taco Bell Arena since Coach Presnell took over for the 2005-06 campaign (three years).
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 . . .
Junior point guard Tasha Harris has led the Broncos in scoring during five of the first nine games scoring double figure points in every contest to date. She enters this week averaging a WAC second best 17.6 points per game (NCAA 60th) to go with 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists (WAC 6th), and 1.9 steals (WAC t-12th). Harris is a 2007 WAC Preseason All-WAC Second Team honoree. Jessica Thompson is the WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year. She is second on the team and fourth (tied) in the WAC for scoring at 15.6 points per game, in addition the junior guard averages 4.6 boards, 2.4 assists (WAC t-10th), and 2.8 steals (WAC t-2nd). The two guard combo scores 33 points per game, or nearly half of Boise State’s total of 72 per game. Jamia Malone, a JC transfer, is third on the team in scoring averaging at 7.0 points per game. Senior center Amanda Stewart leads the Broncos on the glass at 5.3 per game followed by Jackie Lee’s 4.9 rpg and Thompson’s 4.6 rpg.
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 second ranked scoring offense averaging 72.2 points per game (NCAA 51st) on 37.1 percent (WAC 7th) shooting from the floor, 30.5 percent (WAC 5th) from three-point range, and 68.8 percent (WAC 2nd) from the foul line. They lead the league for three-pointers per game (NCAA 29th) at 6.8 per contest.
Defensively As A Team . . .
Defensively, Boise State allows 68.1 points per game to rank fifth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 40 percent (WAC 4th) from the court and 28.9 percent (WAC 2nd) from long range. Boise State is a plus 0.7 (WAC 5th) in rebound margin, 42.6 to 41.9. The Broncos are forcing 19.9 turnovers per game (WAC 3rd) while giving it away 16.2 times per game (WAC 2nd), they are second the WAC in turnover margin at +3.7 (NCAA 52nd).
Scouting Game 10: Boise State at Arizona
The Series . . .
Wednesday’s encounter will be the first meeting between the Broncos and Wildcats. To date, Boise State is 2-0 against the PAC-10 this season with wins over Washington and Washington State. The Broncos have won three straight over members of the league dating back to last year’s 57-47 victory at Oregon. Boise State is now 34-60 all-time versus current members of the Pacific-10 Conference.
A Quick Look At Arizona . . .
The Wildcats are members of the Pacific-10 Conference and are located in Tucson, Ariz. Arizona enters the week at 4-4 overall and are coming off a sweep last week. They defeated Northern Arizona in Tucson 75-54 last Thursday followed by a road win (66-53) at Long Beach State on Sunday. They also have wins over Charlotte (86-77 ot) and Portland (78-71), the Pilots defeated Boise State 84-80 earlier this season.
The Wildcats are in their 17th season under the leadership of head coach Joan Bonvicini where she has accumulated a 281-207 overall record. Arizona returned four starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s team that went 11-21 overall and 4-14 in the PAC-10 to place 9th. This season’s Wildcat squad was picked by the league’s coaches and media to place eighth in the 2007-08 PAC-10 race.
Statistically For The Wildcats . . .
As a Team: Arizona averages 68.5 points per game to rank fifth in the PAC-10. They have shot 43 percent (PAC-10 4th) from the floor, 23.9 percent (PAC-10 9th) from beyond the arc, and 64.8 percent (PAC-10 8th) from the charity stripe. Defensively, they allow 71.6 points per game to rank eighth in the conference. Meanwhile teams have shot 42.3 percent (PAC-10 9th) from the court and 37.7 percent (PAC-10 10th) from 3-point range. They average 36.6 rebounds for a -1.7 rebound margin, and 19.8 turnovers per game.
Who to Watch: Three players average double figure points led by Ashley Whisonant at 15.0 (PAC-10 5th) to go with 3.6 rebounds. She is followed by Ify Ibekwe at 11.5 points (PAC-10 12th) and a team high 7.4 boards (PAC-10 7th) per game, and Amina Njokou at 10.3 points (PAC-10 20th) and 5.4 rebounds (PAC-10 17th).