LOGAN – After an up-and-down, 6-5 start to the basketball season, Utah State is entering conference play. It is Tim Duryea’s second try at a conference championship run as head coach. His team finished with a 7-11 mark last year, but he believes this year’s race is “wide open.”
It all starts Wednesday night at home when Boise State comes to Logan. Like USU, the Broncos have a handful of wins and losses. The only common opponent is Idaho State, a team each easily defeated.
Duryea said this year’s Boise State is similar to past Boise State teams. He said the players are dangerous from the 3-point line, underrated defensively and unselfish.
“They are very solid overall,” he said. “Their stats and our stats are very similar, rebounding the ball they are a little ahead of us, but in terms of offensive percentages and defensive percentages we are very similar teams.”
When it comes to scoring, Boise State is led by 6-foot-7 junior guard Chandler Hutchinson, who is averaging 17.5 points per game. Sophomore guard Paris Austin is second at 10.8 points per game, but its senior Nick Duncan who really likes to shoot from beyond the arc. The 6-8 senior has attempted 545 3-pointers in his time at Boise State and has made 37.6 percent of those. Duryea called him Boise State’s “wild card.”
“He is an unusual player to prepare for because he is a big guy that shoots the ball well from the perimeter and is unique to defend,” he said. “He makes everyone better, not in making plays like a good-passing point guard would, but in terms of how you have to guard him opens up a lot of space for guys like Chandler Hutchinson and Paris Austin.”
USU is 30-12 all-time against the Broncos, but Boise State has won the last three meeting in the series. The last time USU won was in Boise on January 3, 2015 when former Aggie David Collette sunk a 3-point buzzer-beater to pull ahead 62-61. USU lost big at home to the Broncos last year, but then went to Boise and built up a double-digit lead. After leading for more than 37 minutes, USU fell behind and in the end and lost 70-67.
“The two games last year were frustrating for us because you never want to lose on your home court,” Duryea said. “Then going to their court and playing as well as we did for as long as we did and then lose, was also frustrating.”
The game will start at 7 p.m Wednesday. The following game will begin at noon Saturday at Air Force.