Aztec Warfare: San Diego State Out Lasts Boise State At Home

By John Engel
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With 2.8 seconds remaining for San Diego State, and one point in the favor of the underdog Boise State Broncos, it appeared the Aztecs had completely squandered a 17-point first half lead and lost a conference matchup on their home court. After four games without a single win, it seemed like the fifth time would be the charm for the struggling Broncos.

Not so fast.

In a flash, Chase Tapley’s three pointer solidified the win for San Diego St. (17-5, 5-3 Mountain West), ending the Broncos’ hopes of a miraculous upset. A missed free throw for Boise State leading scorer Derrick Marks allowed a streaking Jamaal Franklin to dish the ball to Tapley at this last lingering moment.

James Rahon led the Aztecs with 16 points, while Franklin finished with 14.

Though the Broncos (15-7, 3-5 Mountain West) have proved to be a difficult and resilient opponent whether at home or on the road this season, tonight’s game with San Diego St. proved why the Idahoans may still be one year away from serious contention in the Mountain West Conference.

The Broncos failed to score on their first eight field goal attempts of the first half, and were bailed out only by strong three-point shooting by Marks and Mikey Thompson, who combined to shoot 6-8 from behind the arch. Boise State’s success has completely hinged on their ability to connect from deep, as they are the best three-point shooting team in the Mountain West (40.1 percent).

Winning against No. 11 Creighton gave the Broncos hope of making an impact in the college basketball scene for the first time in, well, ever. However, it doesn’t seem like Boise State well stand any chance in the treacherous Mountain West Conference tournament which will include New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Colorado State and Air Force.

In conference play, the Broncos are incredibly outsized and overly relient on successful three-point shooting. However, there is a bright spot for Leon Rice‘s program: the Broncos will lose only one starter — center Kenny Buckner — at the end of the 2012-13 season. With more experience, and increased maturity in the budding star Marks, Boise State will continue to cause problems for conference opponents.

Marks failed to score a single point for the Broncos in the first half against San Diego State after averaging 16.7 points per game this season. In the second half, he attempted to take over the game much like he did against Michigan State in East Lansing earlier this season. When the Broncos struggle, Marks becomes a one-dimensional ball stopper, leading to the overall demise of his team’s offense.

Boise State is still far away from being on-par with teams like San Diego State, Colorado State, New Mexico and UNLV, but don’t count on it for much longer.

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