Boise State begins tough late-season stretch at home vs. Mountain West foe New Mexico

Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice said his players are trying to keep their blinders on as the Broncos wrap up the regular season against three of the top teams in the Mountain West.

The Broncos (20-8, 11-4) host New Mexico on Saturday (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network) and Nevada (23-6, 10-5) on Tuesday. They head to San Diego State (22-7, 11-5) for the regular-season finale on March 8, but Rice said the Broncos know they can’t look ahead with the Lobos (21-7, 9-6) coming to town.

“If you see everything, you see nothing,” Rice said Friday. “If you see one thing, you see everything, and our one thing is New Mexico.”

Boise State would seem to be in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season if it needs an at-large berth, but closing with losses could damage that, of course. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Broncos as a No. 7 seed in his latest bracket prediction. Andy Katz has the Broncos making the field as a No. 10 seed.

The Broncos are 5-4 against Quad 1 teams this year. Another win or two in that column would all but guarantee them a spot in the Big Dance. They have three straight chances now to add to their Quad 1 win total before the Mountain West Tournament begins on March 13.

The top seed in that tournament and a regular-season conference title also are still well within the Broncos’ grasp. Boise State and Utah State (23-5, 11-4) are tied atop the standings, so a stumble by either team would be costly. The Aggies have Air Force, San Jose State and New Mexico left on the schedule, and they own two wins over the Broncos so they hold that tiebreaker.

New Mexico at Boise State

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: ExtraMile Arena

TV: CBS Sports Network, which is carried by YouTube TV. It’s also channel 139 on Sparklight.

Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler, Abe Jackson)

Series history: New Mexico leads the all-time series 13-11, but Boise State has won six of its past seven games against the Lobos, dating back to 2020.

Last time: The Broncos went into the Pit on Jan. 31 and handed the Lobos an 86-78 loss in front of 13,239 fans. Boise State’s Max Rice scored a career-high 35 points and hit a career-high seven 3-pointers. Chibuzo Agbo added 16 points, and O’Mar Stanley finished with a double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds). Point guard Donovan Dent led New Mexico with 31 points.

Matchup to watch

Boise State PG Roddie Anderson III vs. New Mexico PG Donovan Dent

Dent is one of the quickest guards in the Mountain West. It shows when he decides to drive to the basket, which he did over and over again in these teams’ first game this season. Dent ranks No. 2 at New Mexico with 15.4 points a game, and he’s shooting 52% from the floor. He leads the Lobos and ranks No. 4 in the conference with 148 assists.

Dent, a sophomore, leads a trio of talented guards who power the offense. Graduate student Jaelen House leads the team with 15.8 points a game and 47 3-pointers. Senior Jamal Mashburn Jr. is No. 3 on the team with a 14.7 scoring average, and he’s shooting 82% from the free throw line.

New Mexico also has the likely Mountain West Freshman of the Year: 6-foot-9 forward JT Toppin, who is averaging 12.4 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. Leon Rice said the key to getting the better of the Lobos is to slow down the guards.

“This team is as fast as any team in the country, in tempo and in pure speed,” Rice said.

Anderson is going to have his hands full, but he’s played some of his best games against the top players in the conference. He played a major role in holding Colorado State’s Isaiah Stevens and San Diego State’s Jaedon LeDee in check in Boise State’s wins over those teams.

Anderson leads the Broncos with 31 steals and ranks No. 2 on the team with 66 assists. Tyson Degenhart leads Boise State with 16.8 points a game. The 6-8 junior is averaging 18.3 points in Mountain West play.

Boise State women’s basketball

The Broncos aren’t in the hunt for a regular-season title as the campaign winds down, but they are in great shape to secure one of the top five seeds and a first-round bye in the women’s Mountain West Tournament, which begins March 10.

Boise State (19-10, 10-6) is tied for third place with Wyoming in the standings. The Broncos host Air Force (14-16, 7-10) at 2 p.m. Saturday at ExtraMile Arena in their home finale, and a win coupled with a loss by either Colorado State or San Diego State would clinch that bye.

Boise State, coming off a six-point loss to league-leading UNLV (25-2, 15-1), closes the regular season Tuesday at Colorado State.

The Broncos are led by guard Natalie Pasco (13.8 ppg), their only double-figure scorer in a balanced attack. Abby Muse averages 7.5 points and leads the team with 8.8 rebounds per game.