Boise State's Derrick Alston, Jr. presents matchup nightmare
SMU, Boise State meet Thursday in NIT opener Posted on 03/16/2021 by PonyFans.com
|Boise State guard Derrick Alston, Jr., has evolved from a pencil-thin walk-on to a Mountain West Conference star with a chance to sneak into the first round of the NBA Draft (photo by broncosports.com).
The SMU Mustangs have had their season extended with an invitation to play in the National Invitation Tournament. The Ponies (11-5) will tip off the NIT at 8 p.m. Thursday against the Boise State Broncos (18-8) at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas.
So what kind of opponent is heading to North Texas to face the Mustangs?
Now in his 11th season as the head coach, Leon Rice is the only coach in program history to coach Broncos to 20 or more victories eight times.
The Broncos head to Frisco riding a four-game losing streak, including an 89-82 loss March 11 to Nevada in the first round of the Mountain West Championship. They are 1-1 this year at neutral sites, and 7-7 in all games played away from their home venue: ExtraMile Arena.
The Broncos have outscored their opponents by nearly 10 points per game this season, by an average of 76.2-66.3. They outshot their opponents in both quantity and quality, attempting 1,522 field goals, compared to 1,476 by opponents, and hitting 45.5 percent of their shots, while opponents shot 42.6 percent. The Broncos also held an edge in three-point shooting percentage, 34.2 percent to 32.5 percent for opponents, and enjoyed the narrowest of shooting margins at the free throw line, 74.4 percent to 74.1 percent.
Three Boise State players averaged double digits in scoring:
• Guard Derrick Alston, Jr. (6-9, 190), of Houston (Strake Jesuit) leads the team with an average of 17.4 points per game after walking on at Boise State as a freshman. The first-team All-Mountain West Conference honoree has morphed from an NBA ballboy to a legitimate NBA prospect. His father, Derrick Alston, Sr., is the head coach of the NBA G League’s Westchester Knicks
• Forward Abu Kigab (6-7, 220) averages 11.8 points per game and a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game, and earned second-team all-conference honors. Kijab will not be playing Thursday, having opted for season-ending surger after injuring his shoulder in the Broncos’ regular-season finale against Fresno State.
• Guard Marcus Shaver, Jr., (6-2, 185) averages 10.5 points per game, and his 29 steals this season are third among the Broncos, and just three shy of tying the team lead.
Like Kijab, guard Max Rice (5.9 points per game, 27 assists this season) also underwent year-ending surgery.
SMU holds a 6-5 edge in the all-time series against Boise State. The last meeting was Dec. 18, 2017 at Moody Coliseum; the Mustangs won, 86-63.