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.