It was late in the first half that I started contemplating a 40-point game for Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison—after he collected his 21st, 22nd and 23rd points by banking in a three-pointer. I told my sons it would be the Broncos’ first such game in almost 39 years, since Carl Powell scored exactly 40 against Idaho State in 1979. “What’s the record?” asked one of them. “It’s 42,” I replied. Heck, with Hutchison having such a charmed night, I started contemplating that. At the beginning, I had never seen a player score his team’s first 16 points. In the end, it was the greatest performance I had ever seen in person in a college basketball game, as Hutchison broke Ron Austin’s 47-year-old school record with 44 points in Boise State’s intense 83-80 win over San Diego State in Taco Bell Arena.
So here are some other odds and ends from Hutchison’s record night. The 44 points tie him for the second-most scored in Division I this season, and they’re the fifth-most in Mountain West history. Hey, Hutchison had one more point Saturday than did Oklahoma’s Trae Young, the favorite to win the Wooden Trophy. He has scored 20 points or more in nine of the last 11 games and is averaging 27.5 points per game in conference play. NBA scouts probably liked his three-point shooting the best against San Diego State. KTVB’s Jay Tust came up with this one: in his first 973 minutes as a Bronco as a freshman and sophomore, Hutchison made seven three-pointers. Against the Aztecs, he drilled seven three-balls in 35 minutes.
It was a night Boise State fans won’t soon forget—first-timers no doubt will want to come back. The “SOLD OUT” signs were up at the ticket windows, although it did look like some seats may have been available in the east side of the balcony. The announced attendance was not in the 12,000 range, but 10,874. I figure that must be turnstile count, accounted for between those balcony seats and season ticket no-shows. But enough of that. Coach Leon Rice’s walk across the Boise River actually happened Saturday afternoon when he learned of the sellout (he was fortunate enough to have a 50-degree January day at his disposal). The video was shown to the crowd with 7:45 left in the game during a timeout, and that served to ratchet up the energy another notch.
It was as good an atmosphere as has been seen in Taco Bell Arena this century. The most striking aspect of it was something that has been lacking: noise on defensive possessions. The throng impulsively kicked it into overdrive when San Diego State had the ball. I don’t want to say it was like the old days, but it was like the old days. Hutchison was fairly blown away. “A night like tonight, you can’t beat that,” he said. “I was looking around when (Jalen) McDaniels was shooting that free throw (with 18 seconds left) and my ears were ringing. I have never experienced anything like this. It is a fine line to be locked in, but also be able to enjoy it.”
“HD Official to Duquesne starting tomorrow,” tweeted Gary Harrison-Ducros late last week. That means his son, Reid, the former Boise State cornerback, will continue his playing career at the FCS school, the same place one-time Bronco quarterback Tommy Stuart ended up this past season. Maybe someday we’ll find out why Harrison-Ducros chose to leave the Broncos in the middle of November in the thick of a championship run instead of waiting until the end of the season. With Tyler Horton out with an injury at the Las Vegas Bowl, Harrison-Ducros likely would have an opportunity to go all the way in the 38-28 win over Oregon. Instead, it was redshirt freshman Jalen Walker distinguishing himself against the Ducks.
Jay Ajayi’s going to have to play two productive halves this Sunday if Philadelphia is going to take command in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota. The former Boise State star rushed for 50 yards on eight carries in the first half—and just four yards in seven attempts in the second half in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over Atlanta Saturday. Ajayi did have three catches for 44 yards. But he fumbled on his first carry of the day and dropped an easy (and crucial) third-down catch in the fourth quarter. “It was a great team win today, a lot of my teammates picked up the slack, defense stepped up, other running backs made some big plays,” said Ajayi. “I just think coming in next week, I need to play better.”
With 5,242 in attendance at CenturyLink Arena (and photos show that the number wasn’t window dressing), that means there were more than 16,000 sports fans enjoying Saturday night events about 20 blocks apart. The ones in Downtown Boise didn’t go home quite as happy as those on the Boise State campus, as the Idaho Steelheads fell to the visiting Kalamazoo Wings 3-2 in overtime. The Steelheads’ Henri Samuelsson forced the OT with a power play goal in the final minute of play, but former Steelie Justin Taylor, the ECHL’s second-leading goal scorer, won it for Kalamazoo in the extra period. The Wings won 3-2 in regulation Friday night.
Back to hoops, there were big wins everywhere you look. College of Idaho took over sole possession of first place in the Cascade Conference by holding Warner Pacific to its lowest point output in nine years in a 76-56 win Friday and routed Multnomah 95-50 Saturday. The Idaho Vandals rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to win 58-51 at Eastern Washington Friday night, led by Victor Sanders’ 18 points and nine rebounds. And the Boise State women went into Viejas Arena and took down San Diego State 86-70. Riley Lupfer stayed hot, matching her career-high with 28 points and seven three-pointers.
The late great Keith Jackson, who passed away Friday night at the age of 89, undoubtedly had a number of Idaho ties, having gone to school eight miles from the border at Washington State. But here’s a couple definitive ones. Jackson’s first paying radio job was in Lewiston at a country station, where he co-hosted a request show. His partner was “Snake River Sam,” and Jackson was “Clearwater Clem.” And he did call a Boise State game once. It was the 1971 Camellia Bowl in Sacramento, telecast regionally on ABC. Jackson got a good one, as the Broncos rallied from a 28-7 third-quarter deficit to defeat Chico State 32-28. Keith Jackson, in fact, personified one of the phrases he coined: “the granddaddy of them all.”
This Day In Sports…January 15, 1978, 40 years ago today:
The Dallas Doomsday Defense forces seven turnovers as the Cowboys defeat the Denver Broncos and former Dallas quarterback Craig Morton, 27-10, in Super Bowl XII. The Broncos’ Orange Crush spent way too much time on the field, and Roger Staubach and company cashed in enough to win. It was the Cowboys’ second Super Bowl championship under coach Tom Landry. Do you remember who was coaching Denver at the time? It was Red Miller.
(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.)