Boise State basketball: A deceivingly good road win

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday, January 30, 2019.

Boise State had seen plenty of these slip away this season, and indeed, Colorado State made it interesting. But the Broncos closed it out and got a feel-good 70-68 road win Tuesday night at Moby Arena. It happened on the same floor that got the best of Fresno State last Saturday (the Rams were 3-0 at home in Mountain West play), and it came via a mix of good offense and defense. Boise State shot 58 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three-point range while holding CSU to 43 percent and 28 percent, respectively, in those two categories. David Wacker and Patrick Dembley each missed his only field goal attempt—otherwise, every Bronco who took a shot was above 50 percent.

Justinian Jessup sent his friends and family home happy Tuesday night. The junior from Longmont, CO, thrilled his cheering section with 20 points, five rebounds, a career-high six assists and two blocks. Jessup went 8-for-13 from the field, his best shooting night of the season, while logging his third 20-point game. There was a lot other playmaking going on while the Broncos were keeping their distance from the Rams in the second half. Some of the mental toughness that was missing last week at Air Force manifested itself in Fort Collins, as Alex Hobbs added 17 points, Derrick Alston 14 and Marcus Dickinson 12. And it was Dickinson, the master defender, who helped hold CSU’s two three-point marksmen, J.D. Paige and Adam Thistlewood, to 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.

So how did a game that Boise State led by 11 points with five minutes left and by seven in the final minute end up so close? The big picture: Colorado State outrebounded the Broncos by eight and yanked down a whopping 14 offensive boards. That led to a lot of extra possessions—the Rams took 62 shots on the night to the Broncos’ 45. But it was Boise State that finally got its first win this season in a one-possession game. “We needed to win a close game,” said coach Leon Rice on the KBOI postgame show. The Broncos are now 5-3 in Mountain West play.

STILL DESERVING OF TURNSTILE SUPPORT

Hopefully the crowd tonight for the Boise State women’s game against Colorado State won’t be affected by the Broncos’ loss at Wyoming last Saturday. Hey, they’re still 15-3. Attendance for Boise State’s 10th straight victory last Wednesday was a disappointing 738. Even after all the appeals for support. Maybe it was the opponent, long-suffering Air Force. Maybe Colorado State, a program with tradition, will light more of a fire. Former Centennial star Lauren Brocke comes home tonight wearing a CSU uniform. She’ll be a motivated Ram. Brocke is a redshirt freshman and is averaging 3.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Her former Patriots teammate, Tori Williams, is sitting out this season at Colorado State after transferring from Utah.

RYP AND MATTISON ARE INDY-BOUND

Brett Rypien’s performance during the East-West Shrine Game—and, just as importantly, practices—a couple weeks back surely boosted his cause with the people at the NFL Combine. And Tuesday, the now-former Boise State quarterback accepted an invitation to the gathering in Indianapolis at the end of this month. They call it “an intense, four-day job interview” that takes place on and off the field. I’m fairly certain Rypien will ace his individual interviews and the Wonderlic test. On the field, he’ll go through most of the running and agility tests. But the throwing drills well tell NFL personnel a lot. No so much the accuracy, as he’ll be working with unfamiliar receivers. Rypien’s footwork will be the key thing.

As a junior declaring early for the NFL Draft, Boise State running back Alexander Mattison didn’t have the advantage of an all-star appearance. But Mattison has also landed an NFL Combine invite. This is dated material, because there’s not a lot out there yet about Mattison. Here are notes from his profile at TheDraftNetwork.com. “"Pros: Rumbling runner with nice thickness in the thighs to keep piles churning. Picks his way through the first level nicely and regularly picks the best route to take on zone flow—gets north in a hurry and has the instincts to make initial penetration miss. Cons: Lacks impressive NFL athletic ability. Struggles to maintain velocity when changing direction and does not illustrate much short-area agility.” This was Benjamin Solak’s analysis back in September. Mattison has come a long way since then.

KTVB’s Jay Tust notes that Boise State has had representatives at the NFL Combine for 15 straight years now—there have been 40 Broncos who have received the Combine call in that time. And the last 11 Broncos to get invites have been drafted. The Combine’s final list for 2019 will be released next week, and here’s hoping Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton still has a chance to be on it. Judging by Twitter, the chip on Horton’s shoulder is growing by leaps and bounds (although he is staying positive). The guy’s a playmaker.

IDAHO TIES BEHIND THE CURTAIN

You have to go down a couple layers to find Idaho ties in the Super Bowl this year. All of them are associated with the L.A. Rams. The team’s wide receivers coach is Eric Yarber, the former Idaho Vandals star. John Fassel, a one-time grad assistant at Idaho State who earned a masters from ISU, is L.A.’s highly-regarded special teams coordinator. And last but not least, there’s cornerback Donte Deayon on the Rams’ practice squad. Despite his relative anonymity, Deayon was interviewed by an Atlanta reporter on Media Day Monday. Deayon’s trademark ear-to-ear smile was hard at work: “We at the Super Bowl, preppin’ for the Super Bowl. I’m excited—blood pressure up! Anxiety up! I’m goin’, hey! I’m excited, definitely.”

STEELHEADS ARE FINE PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES

The Idaho Steelheads remain on the road for the next two weeks, with the swing continuing tonight in Texas against the Allen Americans. Coach Neil Graham said Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk that—while he’d like to sweep—taking two of three in this series with Allen would constitute a successful trip. If the Steelies win at a 67 percent clip moving forward, they’ll be in good shape for a top divisional seed in the Kelly Cup Playoffs in April. They have not lost two games in the same week (Monday to Sunday) since the week of November 7. Idaho is 22-6-1 in the 29 games since then.

This Day In Sports…January 30, 2019:

January 30, 1994, 25 years ago today: Most teams are thankful to so much as get there, but the Buffalo Bills are not thankful for this. The Dallas Cowboys handed the Bills their fourth consecutive Super Bowl loss, 30-13, as Most Valuable Player Emmitt Smith rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills led 13-6 at halftime, hopeful of ending three years of frustration in the Big One. But the Cowboys ran off 24 unanswered points in the third quarter and coasted home. It’s still the only time the same two teams have met in consecutive Super Bowls.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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