Leon Rice doesn’t want to hear about San Jose State’s record or how badly the Boise State men’s basketball team should beat them Saturday in San Jose.
Despite being heavy favorites and with arguably the biggest game of the season to follow on Tuesday against No. 9 Nevada, the Broncos say they are keeping their attention solely on the Spartans.
“If you don’t show up and compete against a Division I team, I don’t care who you are playing,” Rice said. “The margin for error in college basketball now is so small and on any given night, if some guy gets hot and makes eight 3-pointers, that’s how you (lose). That can happen if you don’t show up and really compete.”
San Jose State brings a 3-11 record into Saturday’s game and has just one winning season in the last 25 years. But seven of their losses this season are by single digits. The Spartans, who are 0-2 in league play, trailed by just nine points at the half Wednesday at Nevada before ultimately falling 92-53.
Post player Michael Steadman leads San Jose State with 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds, while Noah Baumann is one of the top 3-point shooters in the country at 52.4 percent and is averaging 8.9 points per game.
“They have weapons,” Rice said. “They were in there in the first half against Nevada and it got blown open in the second half but it was a closer game than the score. … The thing I’ve been impressed with is sometimes when a team goes through a stretch like this and they lose and lose and lose they kind of quit, but you don’t see that with these guys. They are competing and fighting regardless of the score and when you get a team like that it’s dangerous.
“They are just plucking away and they will get it going. They will get it going on somebody and last year we won 94-71 and we were down 15-10. Everybody thinks you are supposed to start these games 40-0 and that’s not how it goes. You have to show up and compete and handle it the right way.”
Boise State doesn’t really have the talent or record to be looking past anybody either. The Broncos (7-8, 2-0 MW) are one of just three teams still undefeated in Mountain West play, but they’ve struggled for much of the season and may just be starting to find their stride.
Losing to an awful San Jose State team would ruin any of the recent momentum the Broncos appear to be building, especially with a monster showdown against Nevada looming on Tuesday at Taco Bell Arena.
“There is no such thing,” Rice said of the phrase trap game, which Saturday would appear to be. “There never has been here. It’s human nature to do things like that, that happens, but that’s never really been our thing. The funny thing is when we were 20-3 I didn’t know our record. Guys don’t really know, they just move onto the next one.”
Boise State has won three of the past four games after a 4-7 start and is seemingly trending in the right direction. The Broncos hope to continue that ascent up with a tough week — at home to Nevada and Fresno State — looming ahead.
Tip off Saturday from The Event Center in San Jose is 1 p.m. MST and the game will stream online on the Mountain West Network.
WOMEN LOOK TO STAY PERFECT IN LEAGUE
Boise State will also look to stay unbeaten in Mountain West play Saturday when it hosts San Jose State at 1 p.m.
The Broncos (11-2, 2-0 MW) have won six games in a row since losing at Washington State back on Dec. 1. They hung on for a 69-66 win at San Diego State last Saturday when the Aztecs missed a shot at the buzzer.
“I feel good,” coach Gordy Presnell said. “We have played very well down the stretch in games but we didn’t at San Diego State. We were in total control with a 13-point lead with six minutes to go and they scored 11 straight on us over a three-minute period, so we’ve got to do a better job closing out games. Hopefully we can have a good night on Saturday and then we have a real grind ahead of us.”
The Broncos scored 112 points in a 112-80 blowout win last season against the Spartans, and the game has the makings to be even uglier this time around. Boise State didn’t have point guard Jayde Christopher last year, and the Spartans (1-12, 0-2 MW) are really struggling with just one win this season.
Boise State currently ranks No. 45 in the RPI and could move into consideration for at at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they continue to rack up wins.