Mountain West rankings: Oregon transfer has ‘best feeling ever’ at Boise State

Boise State head coach Leon Rice talks to his bench while playing Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 in Honolulu.

Boise State head coach Leon Rice talks to his bench while playing Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 in Honolulu.

It has not taken Abu Kigab long to make an impact on the Boise State Broncos.

The 6-foot-6 junior guard helped lead the Broncos to three consecutive victories this past week over Portland and UTEP in the Diamondhead Classic in Honolulu and against Cal State Northridge at home. Kigab, who played his first two seasons for the Oregon Ducks, has played four games with Boise and is averaging 16 points and six rebounds.

“I’ve been sitting out for a whole year,” said Kigab, who left Oregon and joined the Broncos last January. “So just getting an opportunity to be out there touching the ball, passing the ball to my teammates, it’s the best feeling ever.”

The three victories last week moved the Broncos up two spots to No. 4 in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings. Kigab, who is from Canada (Ontario) and has citizenship in both Canada and Sudan (where he was born), scored 33 points with 11 rebounds in a 103-72 win over Northridge last Saturday in his home debut at Boise State.

“He has 33 points but it was like the easiest 33 points because he was letting it happen,” said Boise’s Justinian Jessup, who had 24 points on six 3-pointers against Northridge.

The 21-year-old Kigab played 35 games his freshman year at Oregon in 2017-18 and averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds. Last year he played just 10 games at Oregon, averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds, before transferring to Boise in January and sitting out the rest of the year.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” Kigab said. “Sometimes I might have to score more. Sometimes I have to rebound more. Sometimes I have to pass more. Whatever the team needs, that’s what I do.”

The Broncos, now 9-5, also got big contributions from Derrick Alston last week. Alston had 32 points against in an 85-69 win over Portland, 23 in a 72-67 win over UTEP and 17 against Northridge. Jessup had 17 against Portland and Kigab had 11 points and 10 rebounds against UTEP.

“That’s when these guys are best,” Boise coach Leon Rice said, “when they do what the game tells you to do. These guys aren’t having to hunt for their shots because they find each other. We’ve got a lot of unselfish players.”

Jessup was 6-of-7 on threes against Northridge and is now second in Boise history with 270 3-pointers behind only Anthony Drmic (275 from 2011-16).

Boise will face the No. 5 Nevada Wolf Pack at Lawlor Events Center on Saturday.

“These guys are believing in the coaches and we (the coaches) believe in them,” Rice said. “This team is headed for some good things. I really believe it.”

The top three teams (San Diego State, Utah State and New Mexico) and the bottom three (Air Force, San Jose State, Wyoming) stayed the same in this week’s Nevada Appeal rankings. The middle five, though, all changed spots. Boise State went 3-0 and jumped over Nevada and Colorado State into the No. 4 slot. Nevada, which has not played since a 68-63 loss to Saint Mary’s on Dec. 21, fell a spot to No. 5. Colorado State beat Doane 87-62 at home and fell a spot to No. 6. UNLV (6-8) beat Eastern Michigan 64-59 at home and moved up a spot to No. 7 and Fresno State dropped one notch to No. 8 after losing to San Francisco 71-69 and UC Riverside 60-57, both at home.

The Mountain West’s 18-game conference schedule will continue this Wednesday and Saturday with a full schedule of games.

No. 1 San Diego State (13-0, 2-0), which plays at No. 2 Utah State on Saturday, rolled over Cal Poly, 73-57, at home last Saturday thanks to 23 turnovers by Cal Poly. Malachi Flynn led unbeaten San Diego State with 14 points and five steals.

No. 2 Utah State (13-2, 2-0) destroyed Eastern Oregon 129-61 at home as eight Aggies had 12 or more points. Utah State shot 69 percent (25-of-36) from the floor in the second half.

No. 3 New Mexico (13-2) squeezed past UC Davis 74-69 on Sunday at home as Corey Manigault had 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Lobos were just 3-of-16 on threes and turned the ball over 21 times. Davis made 11-of-26 threes for the game and trailed just 36-32 at halftime.

No. 6 Colorado State (9-6), which plays at Nevada on Wednesday (7 p.m.), got 17 points each from Kris Martin and David Roddy and 14 points and nine rebounds by Nico Carvacho in its win over Doane, a Division II school from Nebraska.

No. 7 UNLV (6-8) was just 4-of-17 on threes but used a huge 50-30 edge in rebounding to whip Eastern Michigan. Cheikh Mbacke Diong had 15 points, Bryce Hamilton had 13 points and eight rebounds, Ronnie Tillman had 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and Marvin Coleman had seven points and 10 rebounds for UNLV.

UNLV has now made at least one 3-pointer in a NCAA-record 1,084 consecutive games. The last time the Rebels held an opponent to 45 points was Nov. 16, 2015 against New Mexico Highlands.

The Rebels will host No. 2 Utah State on Wednesday.

“We had a season high in deflections with 34 and I think that allowed us to get that pace and separation that put us in position to (beat Eastern Michigan),” UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger said.

No. 8 Fresno State (4-9) led Riverside 30-21 at the half but lost 60-57 as Riverside was 7-of-11 on threes in the second half. The Bulldogs also led San Francisco 68-60 with 1:44 to play after a 3-pointer by Nate Grimes. San Francisco, though, outscored Fresno State 11-1 over the final 1:25 to steal a 71-69 victory in Fresno. Orlando Robinson had 24 points for Fresno in the loss.

Fresno State led Riverside 55-35 with 9:42 to play but was outscored 25-2 the rest of the game. The Bulldogs turned the ball over six times and missed their final nine shots from the floor over the final nine-plus minutes.

The Bulldogs will play at No. 1 San Diego State on Wednesday.

“I don’t know if our confidence is gone,” Fresno State coach Justin Hutson said. “Mine is not. Disappointed and frustrated. Those are accurate words.”

No. 9 Air Force (6-7) did not play last week.

No. 10 San Jose State (4-10) beat Pepperdine at home 83-68 in front of a crowd of just 1,333. Brae Ivey had 23 points, seven rebounds and five 3-pointers while Seneca Knight had 12 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Spartans.

No. 11 Wyoming (5-9) beat Nebraska Wesleyan at home, 82-68, as Jake Hendricks had 21 points on six threes and Hunter Maldonado had 19 points.

The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Dec. 30-Jan. 5:

1. SAN DIEGO STATE (13-0, 2-0). This week: vs. Fresno State (Wednesday), at Utah State (Saturday).

2. UTAH STATE (13-2, 2-0). This week: at UNLV (Wednesday), vs. San Diego State (Saturday).

3. NEW MEXICO (13-2, 2-0). This week: at San Jose State (Wednesday).

4. BOISE STATE (9-5, 1-1). This week: vs. Wyoming (Wednesday), at Nevada (Saturday).

5. NEVADA (8-5, 1-0). This week: vs. Colorado State (Wednesday), vs. Boise State (Saturday).

6. COLORADO STATE (9-6, 0-2). This week: at Nevada (Wednesday), vs. Wyoming (Saturday).

7. UNLV (6-8, 1-0). This week: vs. Utah State (Wednesday), vs. Air Force (Saturday).

8. FRESNO STATE (4-9, 0-2). This week: at San Diego State (Wednesday), vs. San Jose State (Saturday).

9. AIR FORCE (6-7, 1-1). This week: vs. UC Riverside (Tuesday), at UNLV (Saturday).

10. SAN JOSE STATE (4-10, 0-2). This week: vs. New Mexico (Wednesday), at Fresno State (Saturday).

11. WYOMING (5-9, 0-2). This week: at Boise State (Wednesday), at Colorado State (Saturday).


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