Mountain West rankings: SDSU No. 1, Boise sends message
The Boise State Broncos sent a message to the rest of the Mountain West last week.
“We’ve got eight guys on this roster who can go get 30 points every night,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said after his Broncos swept the New Mexico Lobos (89-52, 77-53) in convincing fashion. “They’ve just got to do what the game tells them to do and when they do that they’re going to be great.”
The Broncos (6-1, 2-0), ranked No. 2 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings, dominated the Lobos. Their 37-point win on Wednesday is the largest in their series history with New Mexico.
Derrick Alston and Max Rice each had 22 points in the 37-point win as the Broncos shot 60 percent (36-of-60) from the field and 11-of-22 from the 3-point line. Alston was 9-of-9 from the field with four dunks and Max Rice was 9-of-13.
Max Rice is a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Bishop Kelly High in Boise and is the son of the Broncos’ head coach.
“I expect that (a 22-point effort) out of him and his teammates do, too,” Leon Rice said. “He can really, really shoot.”
Boise’s Marcus Shaver had 13 points (3-of-3 on threes) after missing the last three games with a foot injury.
“I told him, ‘If it feels good, let it rip,’” Leon Rice said. “If there’s a guy who can go out there and play without practicing for three weeks, he’s that kind of guy.”
The Broncos opened the two-game series with New Mexico with a 24-point win behind 20 points from Alston.
“Everybody had it going offensively,” said Alston, who is fourth in the Mountain West in scoring at 16.9 points a game and was named the conference’s Player of the Week on Monday.
No. 8 New Mexico (3-2, 0-2) did not have a single player score in double figures on Wednesday. The only Lobo who scored in double figures in the two games against Boise State was Makuach Maluach, who had 13 in the loss on Monday.
Boise State will also get a boost next month from Arizona Wildcat transfer Devonaire Doutrive. Doutrive, who will become eligible to play when the Broncos’ fall semester comes to an end, enrolled at Boise State last spring after being kicked out of the Arizona program for his second violation of team rules.
“He’s something special,” said Leon Rice of the 6-foot-5 junior from Inglewood, Calif. “I’ve never really seen anything like him. He’s super quick, the most athletic guy on the team. So we’re getting even more coming, for sure.”
No. 1 San Diego State, which has yet to play a conference game, whipped St. Mary’s 74-49 last Tuesday to improve to 6-1 overall. Nathan Mensah led the Aztecs with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Terrell Gomez (13 points), Jordan Schakel (12) and Matt Mitchell (10) also contributed in the rout.
The Aztecs, like Boise State, are holding teams to 58 points a game. St. Mary’s shot just 18-of-58 (31 percent) against San Diego State, converting just 5-of-22 3-pointers.
No. 3 Wyoming (6-1), No. 4 Nevada (6-3), No. 7 Air Force (3-3), No. 9 Fresno State (2-0) and No. 10 UNLV (1-4) all were idle last week.
UNLV dropped from No. 5 to No. 10 in the rankings because the Rebels’ entire program is in limbo because of positive COVID-19 tests. The Rebels have not played since a 68-58 win at Kansas State on Dec. 5. The Rebels will not play again before traveling to Colorado State on Jan. 7 and 9. UNLV has not practiced since early December and will not meet as a team until a few days before the first game at Colorado State on Jan. 7.
“This season is probably not going to look the way any of us had hoped,” said UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger, who tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago and has been quarantined in his home since. “But the No. 1 thing is the health and well-being of the guys in our program.”
The Rebels played five games in just 11 days (Nov. 25-Dec. 5) before shutting down their program.
No. 5 Utah State (5-3, 2-0) destroyed San Jose State twice last week, 107-62 and 85-52. The 107 points last Monday are the high for a Mountain West game this season.
“Our guys took care of business this week,” Utah State coach Craig Smith said.
Justin Bean had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win on Monday to go along with Brock Miller’s 14 points (four threes). Rollie Worster led the Aggies with 15 points in the 85-52 win on Wednesday. Neemias Queta had nine points, 11 rebounds, four assists and six blocks in just 20 minutes.
“I would say that’s very efficient,” said Smith of Queta’s performance.
Utah State held No. 11 San Jose State (1-4, 0-2) to 15-of-64 shooting (23 percent) from the floor and 20 percent (4-of-20) on threes on Wednesday.
“I don’t care who you play,” Smith said. “You hold a team to 23 percent from the field and 20 percent from the 3-point line, you’re doing something really well.”
“We have to keep playing defense like we have the last four or five games,” the 7-foot Queta said. “That’s a big key for us.”
San Jose State coach Jean Prioleau came away impressed with Utah State.
“That is a really solid team,” Prioleau said. “And that’s a really big team. Their size matters at this level.”
Two Mountain West series this week have been moved to a different location because of COVID-19 guidelines in Albuquerque and San Jose. Nevada will meet New Mexico on Thursday and Saturday in Lubbock, Texas while Boise State will take on San Jose State on Thursday and Saturday in Phoenix.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West men’s basketball rankings:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (6-1, 0-0): Last week: San Diego State 74, St. Mary’s 49. This week: Colorado State at San Diego State, Saturday.
2. BOISE STATE (6-1, 2-0): Last week: Boise State 77, New Mexico 53; Boise State 89, New Mexico 52. This week: Boise State vs. San Jose State in Phoenix (Thursday, Saturday).
3. WYOMING (6-1, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Wyoming at Fresno State (Saturday).
4. NEVADA (6-3, 1-1): Last week: Idle. This week: Nevada vs. New Mexico at Lubbock, Texas (Thursday, Saturday).
5. UTAH STATE (5-3, 2-0): Last week: Utah State 85, San Jose State 52; Utah State 107, San Jose State 62. This week: Utah State at Air Force (Thursday, Saturday).
6. COLORADO STATE (3-1, 0-0): Last week: Colorado State 70, Santa Clara 57. This week: Fresno State at Colorado State (Monday, Wednesday); Colorado State at San Diego State (Saturday).
7. AIR FORCE (3-3, 1-1): Last week: Idle. This week: Utah State at Air Force (Thursday, Saturday).
8. NEW MEXICO (3-2, 0-2): Last week: Boise State 77, New Mexico 53; Boise State 89, New Mexico 52. This week: Nevada vs. New Mexico at Lubbock, Texas (Thursday, Saturday).
9. FRESNO STATE (2-0, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Fresno State at Colorado State (Monday, Wednesday); Wyoming at Fresno State (Saturday).
10. UNLV (1-4, 0-0): Last week: Idle. This week: Idle.
11. SAN JOSE STATE (1-4, 0-2): Last week: Utah State 107, San Jose State 62; Utah State 85, San Jose State 52. This week: Boise State vs. San Jose State in Phoenix (Thursday, Saturday).