The shorthanded Boise State Broncos pulled off an upset in Laramie as they handed the previously unbeaten and 25th-ranked Wyoming Cowboys their first loss of the season, 63-61. It’s a big win in and of itself but they’ve unleashed a beast–junior Jeff Elorriaga–the three-point assassin for the Broncos, who hit a game-winning three as time expired.
Consider the Mountain West Conference warned. Elorriaga is a name that will be heard from again and is the the leading 3-point shooter in the MWC.
The Broncos made the trip to Wyoming without leading scorer Derrick Marks and his 16.3 ppg–Marks is one of four players suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules. Elorriaga, as the third scoring option for the Broncos, is averaging a respectable 11.9 ppg. His specialty, however, is from beyond the arc, where he shoots nearly 50%. This is a kid who made ten three-pointers in a game earlier this season against NAIA school Corban University. Most every shot he takes is a from deep–he averages 8.3 field goal attempts per game, seven of which are 3-pointers. Last night, every shot he took was a three (6-for-10), including the last one, which was the biggest.
With Marks out for who knows how long, Elorriaga should see an uptick in shot opportunities. He’s proven he can connect from three–even when the game is on the line. He reminds me a little of former BYU star Jimmer Fredette–he’s not afraid to shoot the rock when he gets it. Elorriaga is 50-of-105 from three this season. Fredette was 77-for-175 his junior year. He might not have the extended range Fredette had, but he has shown the knack for knocking them down.
Boise is a team that can score (30th in NCAA with 78.1 ppg) and make shots (19th in NCAA with .485 FG%), so they’ll be a force in the Mountain West. They can spread the floor to create shots for their shooters–they rank 6th in the NCAA in 3-point shooting percentage (42.3%). Elorriaga will be the beneficiary of these shots, or at least should be.
They beat a Wyoming team, on the road, with only seven players seeing the floor. Tells me they’re a competitive team with a lot of fight. After this win, they’ve got to be oozing confidence. Head coach Leon Rice will no doubt keep them grounded and get them prepared for another big game, this time at home against No. 25 New Mexico next Wednesday
The Broncos are now 13-2–they didn’t win their 13th game last year until February 18th. They might be on to something out there in Boise. And if Elorriaga can continue to make it rain, they should keep piling up the wins.