Tyson Degenhart looks more than comfortable in the starting lineup.
In just his third start, the 6-foot-7 true freshman led the Boise State men’s basketball team to a 74-48 victory over Cal State Northridge on Tuesday night at the Matadome in Northridge, California.
Degenhart netted a career-high 21 points, becoming just the 12th Boise State freshman in program history to score 20 points or more in a game and the first since Justinian Jessup, who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2020.
“He’s a gamer and he’s a winner, and that’s why I inserted him into the starting lineup. I know what I have,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “Sometimes, necessity is the mother of invention, and we needed him. And he’s stepped up and he’s just going to get better and better and better as the year goes on.”
Before he moved into the starting lineup against Saint Louis in place of Devonaire Doutrive — who is no longer on the Broncos’ roster for undisclosed reasons — Degenhart had played no more than 14 minutes, 45 seconds in his first six appearances. He has since started and played 37:19 vs. Saint Louis, 33:38 vs. Tulsa and 30:33 vs. CSUN, scoring a combined 43 points.
In addition to his 21 points against the Matadors, Degenhart matched his career best with six rebounds, and his two assists and two steals were also career highs. He finished 8-for-13 from the field, including a 3-for-5 performance from 3-point range.
“(My teammates) trust me to shoot the ball, and with them having the confidence in me to shoot the ball, it gives me all the confidence in the world,” Degenhart said. “I couldn’t thank them enough for that. I mean, that confidence really helps me play.”
The Broncos dished out 20 assists on 30 made field goals — led by Emmanuel Akot with a season-high seven assists — and connected on a season-high 53.6% from the floor.
“I think we’re really starting to figure out our roles, and I think we have a lot of confidence in each other to make the right play, choose the right shot,” Degenhart said. “I think that confidence really helps us make a lot of shots.”
No Bronco shot the ball better than reserve Naje Smith on Tuesday. Smith was a perfect 7-for-7 for a career-high 17 points, along with four rebounds, three blocked shots, one assist and one steal.
“He’s just such a great energy, team guy,” Rice said of Smith. “And he’s just getting better and better right in front of our eyes.”
Redshirt senior Marcus Shaver Jr. also reached double figures with 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half as the Broncos built a 17-point lead, 38-21, at the break.
That lead grew as big as 30 points as the Broncos held CSUN without a field goal for 6:44 in the second half. After the Matadors crept within 43-33 with 15:06 on the clock, Boise State went on a 22-2 run for a 65-35 lead with under 7 minutes to go.
“I think out of the gate, our defense has been really good, mostly, this year,” Rice said. “I think our offense is now starting to catch up with it, which is very encouraging.”
Boise State returns home for its next three games, beginning with Prairie View A&M at 7 p.m. Friday at ExtraMile Arena. The game will be streamed live by the Mountain West Network, which is available at broncosports.com/mwn. The Broncos then host Santa Clara (Dec. 14; 7 p.m.) and Montana Tech (Dec. 19; 4 p.m.).
Notes: Boise State sophomore guard Pavle Kuzmanovic limped his way to the bench with 10:32 remaining in the first half and never returned. ... Walk-on Sam Winter got on the court and scored his first career basket with 22 seconds left. ... Boise State has held six of its nine opponents to fewer than 60 points and has not allowed more than 70 points in any game at the end of regulation.
BOISE ST. 74, CAL ST. NORTHRIDGE 48
BOISE ST. (5-4): Armus 1-2 0-2 2, Degenhart 8-13 2-2 21, Kigab 3-6 3-4 9, Akot 4-9 0-0 9, Shaver 5-9 0-2 12, Rice 1-4 0-0 2, N.Smith 7-7 0-0 17, Pryor 0-3 0-0 0, Kuzmanovic 0-1 0-0 0, Winter 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-56 5-10 74.
CS NORTHRIDGE (3-5): Eyisi 4-9 4-6 12, Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Beane 5-12 1-1 11, Hardy 5-9 1-2 11, Harrick 0-1 1-1 1, Wright 0-8 6-6 6, Rains 1-5 0-0 3, James 1-4 0-0 2, Okereke 1-2 0-0 2, Stevens 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-50 13-16 48.
Halftime—Boise St. 38-21. 3-Point Goals—Boise St. 9-21 (N.Smith 3-3, Degenhart 3-5, Shaver 2-4, Akot 1-4, Kuzmanovic 0-1, Pryor 0-1, Winter 0-1, Rice 0-2), CS Northridge 1-10 (Rains 1-2, James 0-1, Beane 0-3, Wright 0-4). Rebounds—Boise St. 37 (Kigab, Shaver 7), CS Northridge 16 (Eyisi 6). Assists—Boise St. 20 (Akot 7), CS Northridge 4 (Hardy 2). Total Fouls—Boise St. 14, CS Northridge 14. A—442 (2,400).