Look, we haven’t exactly been the most dutiful blog when it comes to Bronco basketball. The football season was long, none of our staff exactly have “basketball builds”, and as the first half of last night’s Utah State tilt showed...the Broncos have been streaky. But right around the time people were kicking themselves for paying for the UFC card last night, a somewhat notable thing happened in a game that meant a lot more for the Aggies than the Broncos. With roughly 4 minutes left in regulation, the ExtraMile Arena crowd was being treated to a lackluster Bronco performance...yet another squandered opportunity to impress on a nationally-televised stage against a good opponent. Down 18 points with the aforementioned time left on the clock, the Broncos did something pretty miraculous: they refused to tap out. The Broncos have lacked an elite defense, consistent shooting, and a dominant inside presence, but apparently there’s been some heart buried in there all along because not only did they erase the 18-point deficit (again, I can’t stress how late in the game this was), but they forced overtime and got the freaking victory.
If Utah State didn’t consider Boise State a rival prior to tonight, I’m pretty sure they do now, as Boise State not only embarrassed them in Logan this year in football, but they choked out their at-large tourney berth hopes last night. The Broncos owe this to several key events in that final bit of regulation...but probably owe the biggest debt to a somewhat seldom-used freshman named RayJ Dennis (you can call him “Ray” or you can call him “J”...). Dennis had a grand total of 12 points in the last 5 games, but having a little extra motivation last night did the youngster good and he scored a team-high 19 points—all in the last THREE AND A HALF MINUTES of regulation. This blistering feat featured FOUR 3-pointers (shot 100% from beyond-the-arc), several key free throws, and general awesomeness. The Broncos still trailed by FIVE with FIVE seconds left in regulation when Dennis hit a 3-pointer (obviously) and then Justinian Jessup stole the inbound pass and laid it in to send the game to OT...where the Broncos took their FIRST lead of the game and never looked back. Don’t believe it? BELEE DAT.
Anyone else have any idea what just happened? Ya me neither. pic.twitter.com/J8Eqmwr4ZR— Boise Edits (@boise_edits) January 19, 2020
The Broncos move to 12-8 on the year (they won just 13 games last season) and are still sitting at 6th in the conference standings...but maybe last night’s win will be a turning point? Maybe it won’t be...but for anyone that was lucky enough to be in attendance last night...they’ll remember the “RayJ” game for a loooooong time (some may also refer to it as the “Utah State choking” game...which is also fine).