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Jan 26, 2024 7:06 am

No. 18 Utah State returns from break to visit Boise State

Having a week between games came at a good time in the eyes of Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle.

However, rest and rejuvenation time ends on Saturday when the No. 18 Aggies visit Boise State in a battle for first place in the Mountain West.

The Broncos (14-5, 5-1 MW) have won 23 of their past 24 home games, so playing on their home floor is a major test for any Mountain West team, including Utah State (17-2, 5-1).

Both teams met Fresno State in their most recent games. Boise State posted a 72-68 road victory on Tuesday, while the Aggies recorded an 83-62 home win on Jan. 20.

After that victory is when Utah State had the seven-day scheduling break.

“It’s awesome to have some time off,” Sprinkle said. “We need it. This league is hard because you are playing every two or three days, and the travel and then who you are playing. There are no nights off in this league. You need to take advantage when you get some time.”

The Aggies’ lone loss in conference play was a 99-86 setback at New Mexico on Jan. 16. Utah State had a 15-game winning streak broken.

However, the Aggies bounced back strong against Fresno State with star Great Osobor contributing 20 points and 12 rebounds. Osobor played despite injuring a knee in the New Mexico loss.

Osobor leads Utah State with averages 18.7 points and 9.7 rebounds and also has swatted away a team-high 27 shots.

Ian Martinez, who is second in scoring at 13.6 points per game, had 14 points and a career-best six assists against Fresno State.

Martinez has scored 20 or more points on four occasions this season, and none of them occurred at home. Prior to the Fresno State game, he put up 24 points at UNLV and 22 at New Mexico in back-to-back games. Earlier this season, he scored 28 points at Santa Clara and had 20 on a neutral floor against San Francisco.

“I’ve been shooting better on the road,” Martinez said. “I did better in this game (against Fresno State). I’m trying to get my rhythm here. The important thing is that we win. There are other things more important than me just scoring.”

Boise State has won six of its past seven games as it enters a stretch in which it plays Utah State twice in five games. The rematch is Feb. 10 at Logan, Utah.

The Broncos had their program-record, 22-game home winning streak snapped with a 68-64 loss to UNLV on Jan. 16. They rebounded with a 67-66 home victory over San Diego State prior to the road win over Fresno State.

There were certainly nervous moments Tuesday night when the Broncos saw their 16-point advantage get away and the Bulldogs took a 68-66 lead with 2:10 remaining. But Chibuzo Agbo drained a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:39 left, and Boise State escaped with the victory.

“Flipping the momentum when you’re down near the end is hard to do, especially on the road,” Broncos coach Leon Rice said. “We had to step back, be calm and trust our vets. We started moving the ball around, attacking the glass, and that’s what won it for us.”

Agbo ranks second in scoring for Boise State at 14.7 points per game. Tyson Degenhart averages a team-high 15.1.

Utah State won the teams’ past two meetings after Boise State prevailed in the previous five.

–Field Level Media

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