GAME NOTES: With two games remaining in the regular season, the Boise State Broncos try to secure a first-round bye in the Mountain West Conference Tournament as they take on the Nevada Wolf Pack at Taco Bell Arena tonight.
Boise State, which will visit Air Force over the weekend before the start of the MWC Tournament, has won four of the last five outings thanks to a 72-63 triumph versus Wyoming on the road last weekend. The team is now 9-7 in conference play which means they are alone in fourth place in the standings coming into the week.
Further down on the list is a Nevada squad which continues to be an enigma. On Sunday the Pack hosted 25th-ranked New Mexico at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno and came up short ion a 72-58 final. The loss was the sixth in the last seven games for a group that is an even 8-8 in conference and tied with Wyoming for fifth place in the MWC.
The Broncos won the first meeting of the season in Reno by a score of 74-65, giving them three victories in the last four matchups, but still Nevada owns a 39-23 edge in the all-time series.
Deonte Burton and Cole Huff both dropped in 15 points for Nevada on Sunday at home, the team leading by four at the break before going in the tank over the final 20 minutes of action. AJ West also scored in double figures for the Wolf Pack with his 10 points, adding seven rebounds, but still the team found a way to lose a game even as they turned the ball over just six times.
A starter in all 28 games this season, Burton continues to push his way towards the top of the team's all-time scoring list, thanks to his 19.7 ppg in 2013-14. In addition to putting significant points on the board more often than not, Burton is also first on the unit with 120 assists and is tops with 45 steals, while clearing 4.2 rpg. Jerry Evans Jr. is responsible for another 12.8 ppg and 6.2 rpg as the pair does most of the heavy lifting for the Wolf Pack.
The Broncos appeared to be well on their way to a road loss at Wyoming over the weekend, trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half and six at the break, but the team turned it around as the defense held the Pokes to just six field goals in the final 20 minutes of action. Thomas Bropleh stepped into the starting lineup and posted 20 points on 4-of-6 shooting behind the 3-point line, followed by Mikey Thompson and Ryan Watkins with 14 points apiece, the latter adding a game-high 12 rebounds as the visitors dominated the glass, 31-18.
Due to scoring in triple figures in three of the first four games of the season, against questionable competition of course, the Broncos are still averaging 76.7 ppg on the campaign overall. However, when it comes to conference play that number drops down to 72.0 ppg, which means BSU's scoring margin is only 1.8 ppg. Anthony Drmic leads the squad with 14.8 ppg, followed by Derrick Marks (13.9 ppg) and Watkins (12.9 ppg), the third of the trio also pulling down 12.4 rpg along the way.
The Broncos may not be blowing the competition out of the water anymore, but still the squad has what it takes to win at home, especially against an opponent as unbalanced as Nevada these days.
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