Jeff Elorriaga

Head injury rules out Boise State guard Jeff Elorriaga for Saturday’s game at Nevada

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Boise State junior guard Jeff Elorriaga may not receive the national attention that’s been bestowed upon teammates Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks at various points this season, but there’s no mistaking how important he is to Leon Rice’s team.

Elorriaga leads the Mountain West in three-point percentage, as he’s shooting 48.3% from beyond the arc, and his offensive rating (137.0) ranks among the best in the nation according to statsheet.com.

But the Broncos will be without Elorriaga for Saturday’s game at Nevada and possibly even longer due to a head injury he suffered in Boise State’s 74-67 win over Fresno State on Wednesday night.

Elorriaga hit his head on the floor during the first half of the game and did not return. This is Elorriaga’s second injury issue this month, as he suffered one in Boise State’s 79-74 loss at New Mexico on January 16. Elorriaga, who is averaging 11.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, sat out Boise State’s loss at Air Force as a result of that concussion.

According to Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman Rice stated on Thursday that Elorriaga could be out for a while, and given the areas in which the junior has contributed this is a key loss for the Broncos.

Without him, the Broncos could turn to a more traditional lineup with big men Ryan Watkins and Kenny Buckner on the floor at the same time. With Elorriaga, Boise State was playing primarily four guards.

In Boise State’s five games before the loss at New Mexico, Elorriaga averaged 19.6 points per game and scored 22 in a win at UT-Arlington (Elorriaga also scored 30 points, hitting a school-record ten three-pointers, in a win over Corban College during that stretch).

Currently Boise State (14-4, 2-2) is part of a six-team logjam in the middle of the Mountain West standings two games behind first-place New Mexico. Not having a contributor of Elorriaga’s caliber makes it tougher for the Broncos to set themselves apart from the pack and possibly earn an NCAA tournament berth should he have to sit out multiple games.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
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Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 22 Indiana falls at Penn State

Penn State's Shep Garner (33) moves towards the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in State College, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
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Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.

The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.

That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.

The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?

The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.

They were going to slip up eventually.

And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.