Boise State waited a long time to get Emmanuel Akot on the floor after he transferred from Arizona. The early results bore fruit, as Akot averaged 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per game before New Year’s Day. But the 6-8 guard has scored just six points in the three games he’s played since he came down with what was called a “tender Achilles” against Air Force a month ago. The hope is that this is not déjà vu, as Akot dealt with knee tendinitis throughout his freshman year with the Wildcats.
Akot did play 16 minutes in last Friday’s win at Colorado State and appeared to be moving well. Maybe the week off has helped his health, because he will be needed in the two crucial games at Nevada tonight and Sunday—if not as a scorer, as a perimeter defender and passer. Akot’s length makes him a difficult matchup, especially around the three-point line. His defensive stop on San Jose State star Richard Washington at the top of the key on the final possession of Boise State 87-86 win on January 2 is his calling card.
BY THE NUMBERS
Boise State has not won at Lawlor Events Center in more than five years. But since Nevada was ripping through the Mountain West with Eric Musselman’s cast of transfers, the Wolf Pack has come back down to earth somewhat under Steve Alford. The Pack still likes transfers, though. Former Wichita State Shocker Grant Sheffield is doing it all for Nevada, ranking second in the Mountain West in scoring at 18.3 points per game and second in assists at 5.7 per. The Broncos just have to stay the course, at least according to what the numbers say. They’re one of only four teams nationwide to rank in the top 40 of scoring offense and scoring defense, and their average margin of victory of 16.8 points per game is No. 10 in the country. Boise State is also No. 11 in turnover margin and No. 25 in rebounding margin.
WINS, ANY WAY THEY CAN GET ‘EM?
San Diego State isn’t quite ready to let go of its cancelled games against New Mexico, it seems. The Mountain West didn’t specify COVID-19 or any other reason for the games being scrapped, but the Lobos have been said to be on the verge of opting out of the season now. While the Aztecs empathize with their peers, they’re wondering if the two contests should be considered forfeits, according to Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “(It’s) a vigorous source of contention behind the scenes,” writes Zeigler. The Aztecs already had two games against UNLV postponed. They’re trying to accumulate all the wins they can to improve their seeding in the Mountain West Tournament, and the Lobos almost certainly would have been two of them.
THE NEXT STEP FOR BATES
If his performance during Senior Bowl practices last week didn’t make him an NFL Draft prospect, this will. Former Boise State tight end John Bates tweeted yesterday that he’s been invited to the 2021 NFL Combine. Bates posted the invitation letter along with it, and it confirms that the Combine won’t be held in Indianapolis a month from now as originally planned. The event will focus on “evaluation and virtual interactions with club personnel.” The Combine is placing a hold on dates in Indy in early April, and players may or may not be asked to travel there.
LIKELY TO BE A SHORT STAY IN SCOTTSDALE
Maybe Troy Merritt missed the crowd chaos Thursday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The Meridian resident has a lot of work to do today if he’s to make the cut after carding a three-over 74 in the first round at TPC Scottsdale. Merritt started on No. 10 and was two-under after seven holes before taking a triple-bogey on the 17th. He followed that with a bogey going into the turn, and that was about it. The Phoenix Open is usually the rowdiest stop on the PGA Tour, but daily crowds are limited to 4.500 at this year’s tournament due to the pandemic.
MILESTONE ON HOLD
A few people in the stands could help break the Boise State women out of their funk. The Broncos have lost four games in a row, but at least there will be a little noise to urge them on against Nevada today and Sunday in ExtraMile Arena. Coach Gordy Presnell will try once again to notch his 700th career victory, and he’ll be doing against a team he has beaten seven consecutive times. (A lot of those games have gone to the wire, though). Boise State will have to shoot a lot better than it has been to get it done. The Broncos shot exactly 30 percent in their two losses to Colorado State last week.
AROUND THE HORN
After the Idaho’s 89-75 loss to Eastern Washington in Moscow Thursday night, we have these sorry numbers for the 0-14 Vandals, with an assist from KTVB’s Jay Tust. Since going 22-9 (14-4 in the Big Sky) during the 2017-18 season, Idaho is a combined 13-65, including 6-45 in Big Sky play. That is just not good. Elsewhere, College of Idaho was unable to play Lewis-Clark State tonight, so Northwest Nazarene has moved its game against LCSC up day, from Saturday to tonight in Nampa. C of I is able toi play baseball, though—the Coyotes open their home schedule today and tomorrow versus Oregon Tech in a four-game non-conference series at Wolfe Field.
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February 5, 2006, 15 years ago today: Seattle’s first trip to the Super Bowl is undone by bad decisions, bad calls, and bad karma in a 21-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Seahawks appeared to dominate the game but couldn’t make the big play, while the Steelers did—the final nail being a 43-yard touchdown pass on a reverse from wide receiver Antwaan Randel-El to the game’s MVP, Hines Ward. But most scrutinized was the officiating that took away, at best, all of Seattle’s momentum—and, at worst, two potential Seahawks touchdowns. Meanwhile, former Boise State standout Kimo von Oelhoffen took home a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)