Two things we learned from Boise State’s win over San Diego State, one storyline to watch

The Boise State men’s basketball team earned its fourth Quad 1 win of the year Saturday in what turned out to be a barn burner against San Diego State.

The Broncos were up 34-31 at halftime, but they had to go on a run to regain the lead in the second half and hold on late for a 67-66 victory. Their other Quad 1 wins came against St. Mary’s, Colorado State and Nevada.

Boise State (13-5, 4-1 Mountain West) continues conference play Tuesday at Fresno State before hosting No. 18 Utah State on Saturday (2 p.m., Mountain West Network).

Here are two things we learned from Saturday’s win over San Diego State and one storyline to keep an eye on this week.

Boise State guard O’Mar Stanley works for position defended by San Diego State guards Lamont Butler (left) and Reese Waters on Saturday at ExtraMile Arena.
Boise State guard O’Mar Stanley works for position defended by San Diego State guards Lamont Butler (left) and Reese Waters on Saturday at ExtraMile Arena.

O’Mar Stanley is playing like one of the best players in the conference.

Boise State point guard Roddie Anderson III doesn’t get to vote for Mountain West Player of the Year, but if he did, it would go to his teammate, O’Mar Stanley.

“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, he’s the best player in the conference,” Anderson said after the Broncos’ win over San Diego State on Saturday. “O’Mar is a big piece to our team. When he’s in that mode, and he’s attacking and playing defense, I don’t think anyone can stop him.”

Stanley, a transfer from St. John’s, has played like one of the best players in the Mountain West since breaking into the starting lineup in the Broncos’ win over St. Mary’s on Dec. 1. He has scored at least 10 points in eight of 12 games since, including a 30-point, 11-rebound effort against San Jose State. He also pulled down 11 rebounds against Colorado State and has three double-doubles this season.

He posted 17 points and seven rebounds against San Diego State and went 3-for-3 from 3-point range. He went into the game with just four 3-pointers on the season.

Stanley’s 12.7 points per night rank No. 3 at Boise State and No. 20 in the conference. San Diego State’s Jaedon LeDee leads the Mountain West with 21.1 points a game, followed by Utah State’s Great Osobor (18.7 ppg) and Wyoming’s Sam Griffin (18.2 ppg).

Stanley leads the Broncos with 6.4 rebounds per game. He ranks No. 8 in the conference, which is led by Osobor (9.7 rebounds a game) and LeDee (8.8 rpg).

Stanley’s stats may not be the best in the Mountain West, but he has looked like one of the most dangerous post players in the conference. That was punctuated when he blocked a shot by LeDee late in the Broncos’ win on Saturday.

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The Broncos rise to the occasion against the best in the conference.

The Broncos held the conference’s top scorer in check on Saturday. LeDee was limited to just two points until the final 4:00 of the first half, and he finished the game with 13 points. That tied his season low. He also scored 13 points against UC San Diego early in the season.

LeDee has scored at least 20 points in 10 games this season, and he has eclipsed 30 points twice, including a season-high 34 in an overtime win against Washington.

He’s the latest Mountain West star to struggle against the Broncos. Boise State limited Colorado State point guard Isaiah Stevens to 15 points and forced him to cough up six turnovers, which ties his season high. He also gave up six turnovers against St. Mary’s in December. Nevada’s leading scorer, Jarod Lucas, was limited to 14 points against the Broncos. His 17 points a night rank No. 5 in the Mountain West.

“We’re not afraid of anybody that steps on the court with us,” Anderson said. “We’re just going to try to out work you, play more physical and be tougher than you.”

The Broncos will get a shot at another one of the conference’s top players when Osobor leads Utah State into ExtraMile Arena on Saturday. The 6-foot-8, 250-pound junior has posted nine double-doubles this season. He has scored at least 20 points in nine games and pulled down at least nine rebounds 12 times. He put up at least 20 points in five of the Aggies’ past six games, including a season-high 32 against Air Force on Jan. 2.

Can the Broncos’ bench build on San Diego State win?

The Broncos’ bench came to life against San Diego State. Less than a week after Rice said he needed to see more energy from the reserves following a loss to UNLV, Boise State got 10 points from the bench in its win over the Aztecs.

It was the second time Boise State’s backups produced at least 10 points since the Broncos opened Mountain West play Jan. 5 at San Jose State. They got 11 points from the bench in their win over Colorado State. The Broncos’ reserves managed just two points against UNLV and Nevada and didn’t score at all against San Jose State.

Kansas transfer Cam Martin and point guard Jace Whiting played major roles in Boise State’s win over San Diego State. They both logged their most minutes since the Broncos’ win over Utah Valley on Dec. 29.

Martin finished with four points, three rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes. Whiting knocked down a big 3-pointer in the second half and finished with two assists in 16 minutes. More importantly, their minutes in the first half gave Anderson III and Stanley an early breather and kept their legs fresh for the season half.

Freshman Andrew Meadow also came off the bench and knocked down a three that gave the Broncos a 10-point lead over the Aztecs in the first half.

“They’re the key to our season, as much as I haven’t given them enough minutes,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said of his reserves. “They’re the key to us being a great team.”

The Broncos could use a similar effort Tuesday at Fresno State (8:30 p.m. MT, FS1). The Bulldogs have nine players averaging at least five points per game, led by point guard Isaiah Hill, who leads the team with 12.7 points a night and ranks No. 6 in the Mountain West with 100 assists.