Yesterday, we took a look at Boise State, a team that has dealt with as many injuries and suspension as any team in the country.
When the Broncos have their entire roster available, they are, quite clearly, a dangerous team. A win at Creighton and wins over UNLV and Colorado State at home should tell you as much.
On Tuesday night, however, a full roster wasn’t enough, as the Broncos couldn’t stop Anthony Marshall down the stretch. Marshall sparked an 18-5 run after Boise State took a 56-50 lead with 4:42 left on the clock, leading the Rebels to a 68-64 win in the Thomas & Mack Center in yet another thrilling Mountain West finish.
(Before I go any further, a quick tangent: I questioned Anthony Marshall as much as anyone heading into the season. I didn’t think he was enough of a true point guard to lead this UNLV team that desperately needed a true point guard. He had 16 points, seven assists, no turnovers, shot 5-6 from the floor and 6-7 from the line last night while taking over down the stretch. On the season, he’s averaging 10.9 points. 5.9 assists, and 2.6 turnovers with shooting splits of 47.3/37.0/69/3. I’ll take my crow with salt and a little bit of sriracha, please.)
But when you look a little deeper, Boise’s performance should be as promising as the loss was disappointing.
Derrick Marks is Boise State’s leading scorer and the most dangerous player on a team that also includes Jeff Elorriaga, who hit three straight threes in the span of about a minute on Tuesday night to give Boise State that 56-50 lead. Marks averages 16.0 points and 3.9 assists, which is impressive, but not quite as impressive as the 35 points he scored in the win at Creighton or the 38 points he put on Colorado State on Saturday. Marks also had 30 in a win over Fresno State, 27 in an overtime loss at New Mexico and 24 in a four point loss at Michigan State.
Marks was a complete non-factor.
He scored just four points in 18 minutes, finishing with more turnovers (seven) and fouls (five, although at most three of them were deserved) than points (four).
And the Broncos still managed to find themselves up six on UNLV in an arena where New Mexico, Colorado State, and San Diego State all lost in an 11 day stretch in February.
Boise State isn’t a lock for the NCAA tournament yet, but they host San Diego State on Saturday and will likely get another shot at the Aztecs in the first round of the MWC tournament. Win one of those games, and BSU can probably lace up their dancing shoes.
Don’t be surprised if they pull off an upset or two when they get there.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.