Easier to fix things after a “W”

A game that could have been the ultimate buzz-killer turned into a 70-67 Boise State win over Utah State last night. There’s plenty that ails Boise State right now. But a game that could have been the ultimate community buzz-killer turned into a 70-67 win over Utah State last night in Taco Bell Arena. All the Bronco warts were on display in the first half as the Aggies took a 10-point lead into the break. Boise State shot just 34 percent in the opening 20 minutes and went 3-for-15 from three-point range while turning the ball over 12 times—and watch USU live on treys and layups. The second half looked much like the New Mexico game last Saturday when the Broncos went on a 16-3 spurt to tie the game, only to see the Aggies answer with an 11-0 run to go back up by double-digits. But this time Boise State made plays at the end, scoring the last seven points of the night to escape a third straight loss.

Three-pointers. Agony and ecstasy. There’s nothing in college basketball that fosters frenzy from fans like a three-pointer that goes in. And nothing that elicits groans like one that misses. The groans were palpable again last night, as Boise State shot less than 22 percent from deep. But wouldn’t you know it—it was trey by Lonnie Jackson with just 1½ minutes left in the game that gave the Broncos their first lead at 68-67. The Aggies were in ecstasy most of the evening. They were hitting 65 percent from beyond the arc, but they missed four of five over the final 10 minutes.

Anthony Drmic wasn’t a factor in the thrilling finish, but he was one of the only Boise State factors in the first 25 minutes. The senior Australian played like a guy who has just four home games left in his career, scoring 12 points and pulling down six rebounds—a gutty and energetic performance in the face of a bothersome ankle. Down the stretch, though, James Webb III’s offensive touch returned from hiatus. Webb scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half to key the recovery from a 13-point deficit. He also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, four on the offensive end. The Broncos out-boarded Utah State 39-22, with 17 on the offensive glass, a difference-maker as they were able to hang onto third place in the Mountain West.

It is here. National Letter of Intent Day. Through all the tumult of this recruiting season—Derrion Grim flipping to Nebraska, and Micah Wilson and Damarea Crockett to Missouri (for example)—and a side helping of coaching movement, Boise State appears to have fared well. These numbers will change once the fax machines finally stop churning, but right now the Broncos have a healthy lead in the Mountain West recruiting rankings at Scout.com with the No. 49 class in the country. Colorado State is second at No. 65, followed by San Jose State at No. 67. Of course, rankings and the number of “stars” next to recruits’ names mean nothing until they get on the field. We’ll know a lot more in, say, 2½ years.

Down the line, we’ll see what kind of mining Boise State has done in the Treasure Valley for walk-on talent. It’s always been a Bronco staple, but typically the program doesn’t identify its preferred walk-ons until they enroll in August. The names out there right now include Capital defensive lineman Ben Vering, Rocky Mountain quarterback Christian Blaser and Rocky running back Jake Roper. There’s quite a history walk-on Broncos, including Centennial’s Brock Forsey, who led the nation in scoring in 2002, Borah’s Tyler Jones, who did the same in 2004, and Mountain View’s Tyler Shoemaker, who set Boise State’s single-season touchdown receptions record with 16 in 2011.

Lost in the shuffle as Super Bowl hype hits a crescendo is Denver left tackle Ryan Clady, the former Boise State star who will miss his second Super Bowl in three years due to injury. He is with the team throughout the week’s festivities, though. Clady has been out since tearing an ACL during the Broncos’ OTA’s last May, just a few months removed from his fifth career Pro Bowl appearance. His 2013 season ended after two games due to a Lysfranc injury, and he had to watch Denver’s 43-8 loss to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII from the sidelines. Clady’s future with the team is cloudy in light of this injury-prone stretch, but he has offered to restructure his contract in order to stay in Denver. He turns 30 this September. Clady remains the highest draft pick ever to come out of Boise State, selected No. 12 overall by Denver in 2008.

Former Idaho star and current Denver safety Shiloh Keo was all but lost in the shuffle in December, when he had passed the one-year mark since being cut by the Houston Texans. That’s when he tweeted Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips asking the coach to keep him in mind. According to USA Today, Keo’s social media magic has given lots of other guys ideas. “If people would quit Twittering me now to try to get on the team, I would appreciate it,” Phillips said with a smile during Monday night’s Super Bowl 50 media event. “I’ve had tons of people saying, ‘Hey, I played in junior high and I know I can help you.’” Phillips had coached Keo in Houston, so they knew each other. Phillips doesn’t know any of these other people. “No,” he said. “I haven’t come up with any yet that even played football.”

Jared Allen is passionate about playing in the Super Bowl. “I feel great,” the former Idaho State star said. “Honestly, I feel, hopefully, I’ll be a tremendous factor in this game. So, as far as physically, 100 percent ready to go, just preparing like normal.” But really, how is that small bone Allen broke in his foot in Carolina’s Divisional round win over Seattle? Especially at the far reaches of a 33-year-old defensive end? Allen is practicing, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants to see him get through the week before committing. As one of the top 10 quarterback-sackers in NFL history, Allen would at least bring some savvy against Denver.

There are two different versions of a .500 record in hockey. One takes into account just the wins and losses and not the regulation ties that turn into overtime and shootout defeats. The other is what I call “the real .500,” and the Idaho Steelheads have impressively reached that plateau going into the three-game series with the Alaska Aces that begins tonight in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads are 23-18-5, in other words, they’ve won 23 of their 46 games. To get there, they had to go 8-4-1 in December and 9-4 in January. You can do the math—the Steelies were a fairly frustrating 6-10-4 in October and November. Idaho won all four of its games last week, including three at Atlanta, the team’s first three-game sweep of the season, home or away.

The Cascade Conference couldn’t have had an alternative. College of Idaho’s Aitor Zubizarreta is the league’s Player of the Week after scoring 68 points in the Coyotes’ road split last weekend. Zubizarreta became just the fourth Yote in history to score 45 points in a game, hitting that number in a victory at Evergreen State. The junior transfer converted 19-of-24 field goal attempts, adding nine rebounds and five assists. Zubizarreta joins tall company, as the only others in the C of I 45-point club are the legendary Elgin Baylor (53 in 1954-55 and 45 in 1954-55), Mark Owen (47 in 1984-85) and Johnnie Hilliard (46 in 1990-91).

This Day In Sports…February 3, 2013:

Just as it was looking like a forgettable game, Super Bowl XXLVII becomes one of the most memorable. Right after Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned the second half kickoff an NFL postseason record 108 yards for a touchdown to give Baltimore a 28-6 lead over San Francisco, a 34-minute power outage struck the Superdome in New Orleans. When light was restored, former Nevada star Colin Kaepernick rallied the 49ers until their luck ran out on a fourth-and-goal from the five with less than two minutes left. In an historic coaching matchup, the Ravens’ John won the battle of the Harbaugh brothers over the Niners’ Jim, 34-31.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)