BOISE — The Boise State men’s basketball team has passed its first test, albeit a fairly easy one. Now the Broncos can start to get an idea of what they’ve got.
Utah, one of two new members of the Pac-12, will take on the Broncos tonight at 6 at Taco Bell Arena. The Utes are the first team from the conference to play against the Broncos in Boise since 2007.
“No offense to the other teams, those weren’t real games,” freshman guard Derrick Marks said. “My first college game will be against a Pac-12, solid Utah team.”
Boise State easily took care of Division II Colorado Christian in its opener Friday with a 95-44 win in which they shot nearly 64 percent from the field.
Wins in an exhibition and in the opener against teams from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference aren’t quite the same level as facing a Pac-12 team that won the Mountain West title in 2009 and has played in 29 NCAA tournaments.
“We’re real excited, we know they’re a good team,” forward Ryan Watkins said.
Like coach Leon Rice’s Broncos, the Utes are a bit of an unknown commodity, as they have 11 newcomers on their roster. They have a standout point guard in Josh Watkins (14.5 ppg last season), and also have strength inside with 7-foot Jason Washburn and 7-3 David Foster at center.
Coaching the Utes in his first season is a familiar face — former Idaho Stampede (2003-04) coach Larry Krystkowiak, who was a candidate for the job Rice got in the spring of 2010.
“He’s a coach that I have a lot of respect for,” Rice said. “They have some aircraft carriers, it’s different than what we’re playing with. Krystkowiak’s a really, really good big guy coach.”
To combat the Utes’ size, the Broncos won’t fight fire with fire, as Watkins, at 6-8 is their tallest player. Instead, they have plenty of bodies to use in their up-tempo game. Marks and Watkins were a combined 15-for-15 against the Cougars, and Wes Perryman added 11 points.
“Not only are you adjusting to your opponent, but you’re trying to figure your own guys out, try different combinations,” Rice said. “... Our big guys do a pretty good job of playing a little bigger than they are.”
Marks said one of the first things mentioned about when the schedule was released was noting Utah’s visit tonight. The Utes trailed by as much as 16 in the second half, but hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to beat the Broncos 86-84 last Dec. 17 in Salt Lake City.
“The coaches always talk about how Utah stole the game from us, them coming here is a huge game, and them being in the Pac-12, it gets even bigger,” Marks said.