Broncos with a stellar second half to defeat Aztecs 66-60

Credit: Aztecs Athletics

Credit: Aztecs Athletics

Saturday night, February 25, 2023, was the game of the season for the then No. 22 SDSU men’s basketball game. To claim at least a share of the Mountain West title, Lamont Butler, with his team being down 71-70 to New Mexico and six seconds remaining in the contest, took the ball down court and, with .5 seconds on the shot, clock put up a top of the key three-pointer. Bucket.

Butler’s buzzer-beater silenced the Pit in New Mexico, and the Aztecs went on to celebrate in the locker room. The next day, celebration time is over, and it is day one of two to prepare for their next match, Boise State.

Fast forward two days later, the No. 18 Red and Black arrive at the ExtraMile Arena in Idaho, where the Broncos are 13-1 this season, looking for the regular season sweep and resume building quad one win. 

In the Aztecs 72-52 win against BSU on Feb. 3 in Viejas Arena, Boise State was without their star guard Marcus Shaver Jr. due to an injury but is now back in the lineup for the Broncos’ second meeting versus SDSU.

Shaver Jr. was not the difference maker in tonight’s game, it was Max Rice’s 26-point performance that helped lead the Broncos to a 66-60 victory over the Aztecs.

Tyson Degenhart, who leads the Broncos in scoring, got BSU off to a fast start with a lay-up.

The Broncos’ four turnovers in the first six minutes helped the Aztecs gain 11 early points, while SDSU also played good defense during that time.

Rice’s three made it 11-7, stopping the Red and Black from gaining momentum after going on a 6-0 run.

After Aguek Arop’s lay-up at the 11:38 mark, both teams were not able to score for a little over two minutes. BSU and SDSU were turning the ball over and making sloppy passes.

Degenhart’s lay-up at the 8:59 mark ended the scoring drought, and then BSU started to keep it close.

Rice’s three at the 4:20 mark gave the Broncos their first lead of the game since the start of first, but the birthday boy, Adam Seiko, made BSU’s lead short-lived with his three.

The score was kept close the rest of the first half as the Aztecs led 30-27, and both teams shot 40% from the field and exactly 10-for-25.

The SDSU bench showed up in the first half and scored 14 of the Aztecs’ 30 first-half points.

A big problem for the Broncos were the nine turnovers, which SDSU capitalized on for 10 points.

The Aztecs were weak on the glass as BSU led 20-10, with most rebounds coming defensively (13 points). 

Rice and Degenhart were the all-stars offensively in the first 20 minutes for the Broncos, as they combined for 19 of Boise State’s first-half 27 points and went seven-for-10 from the field.

Shaver Jr, who only had two points in the first half, opened with five early second-half points that helped lead the Broncos to a 33-32 lead.

But a BSU lead was short-lived, as the Aztecs went on a 9-2 run for almost three minutes to make it an eight-point game.

SDSU’s lead started to subside, and the Broncos went on a 7-0 run to cut it to a one-point game.

BSU kept the game close for a bit under two minutes but were not able to tie the game until Naje Smith nailed a three to make it 47-47. ExtraMile Arena erupted.

The Aztecs’ next possession, the ball was given to Micah Parrish in the corner, and he took a three-point attempt.

Swish. 

Silence cascaded across ExtraMile Arena as SDSU went back on top 50-47.

After Degenhart went one-for-two from the line, the Aztecs went on a 7-0 run to gain their biggest lead of the game, 57-48.

The Broncos would not go away and went on a 12-3 run to make it a one-point game with 3:32 remaining.

Rice, who made it a one-point game with an off-the-glass three at the 3:22 mark, buried another three on BSU’s next possession to give them a 62-60 lead. The senior guard’s 24th point of the night.

Next Aztec possession, Rice steals the ball and takes it down the court and to the basket to give the Broncos a 64-60 lead. BSU was on a 12-0 run.

SDSU failed to capture a rebound or a point the rest of the way, the Broncos won 66-60 and beat a ranked opponent for the first time since December 2015.

“We did not play well in the last five minutes,” head coach Brian Dutcher said postgame. “Credit to Boise, they played desperate, and they played better.”

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The Aztecs had nine turnovers in the second half and totaled 12, while BSU controlled the ball a lot better in the second half and finished with 14 turnovers.

Rice finished with 26 points and shot nine-for-16 from the field and five-for-eight from beyond the arc. Two other Broncos were in double figures.

“We can’t give him 26,” Dutcher said about Rice postgame. “He’s a leading scorer and is scoring at a high level.”

Bradley had a team-leading 16-points and shot six-for-15 from the field.

Rebound control and second-chance points were key for BSU in their win, as they won 35-24 on the glass and had 17 second-chance points.

The Aztec bench had 28 of SDSU’s 60 points, while the Broncos got most of their points from their starters and only five from the bench.

The Aztecs head back home to play their Senior Day game against the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday, March 4 and look to secure the Mountain West regular season title outright.

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