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Boise State gears up for important homestand and it starts with Utah State

Posted at 3:49 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 17:49:58-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise State Broncos are currently tied with Wyoming with two losses atop the Mountain West Conference, BSU hosts Utah State at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and then San Diego State on Tuesday night.

Boise State has faced adversity in the past two weeks as their best on-ball defender and one of their best overall players Emmanuel Akot hasn't played because of an injured knee, the word we got today is that E-Man remains day-to-day.

Other players have had to step up, especially as the Broncos bounced back in a lopsided win at Air Force as the team also didn't have Najee Smith because of an illness.

"It kind of gave me and Max more confidence," said Lucas Milner.

Milner scored a career-high 13 points without missing a shot against Air Force and Max Rice has played his best two games of the season back to back.

Max led the team with 17 points including two big buckets in overtime in a loss against Colorado State, he followed that up with 14 at Air Force, it is safe to say Max has put an early-season slump behind him at one point he had a stretch where he went 1-24 from downtown.

"I think the biggest difference between how I was playing earlier in the season to how I’m playing now is taking the right shots," said Max. "I would pass on a good look and Leon would get mad at me so I was alright I got to take this one, brick, I was having a bunch of misses earlier because of that and now I think I’m in a better flow and know which ones I’m going to take."

If you noticed there Max referred to his father as Leon and this duo prepared for the relationship of player and coach by talking with other coaches and their sons about how to deal with this unique pressure.

Leon said it always started with the challenges and ended with how great the experience ended up being, and for Leon and Max they have been doing this a long time.

“Maybe one of the best things that was said to max was one of his teammates were talking about me and he said to Max oh yeah I forgot he’s your dad," said Leon.

Leon would go on to say all his players are like sons to him and he does have a special team who continues to get better with other players getting more minutes because of the injury to Akot.

"That’s the way I look at this team if we get this guy playing at his best and all those pieces that you are talking about if we get them all clicking at their best how good can we be?" said Coach Rice. "That’s hard to do but down the stretch you want all the guys playing confident and close to their best and maybe the experience that they’ve got when we haven’t had a full roster helps us and that’s what I’m hoping for."

The Broncos will get a big boost when Akot is available to return, but the team wants to make sure to wait until he's healthy so he doesn't reaggravate his knee.

Saturday's tipoff is set for 4:00 p.m. and it is an orange-out game, and according to early ticket sales, Extra Mile Arena will be rocking.