CLEMSON, S.C. – The Boise State men’s basketball team has been one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country since coach Leon Rice arrived in 2011.
That’s why what happened Sunday at Clemson was so surprising.
Boise State got manhandled on the glass to the tune of a 40-25 margin and gave up 13 offensive rebounds in an 85-68 road loss to the Tigers.
“They punked us on the glass,” Boise State center Cam Martin said. “We can’t get out-rebounded like that. We’re not going to beat many teams, I don’t care who it is, if they get almost double the rebounds we had.”
Clemson had 13 offensive rebounds to Boise State’s 18 defensive rebounds. And the Tigers turned the margin into a 19-5 edge in second chance points.
“It was the difference in the game,” Rice said. “We haven’t been based like that on the glass before. I can’t remember a time. Part of it was them, part of it was us. There’s a reason we played this game. We knew they were good. And they played great.
“And it wasn’t a sneak attack We knew they had five bigs and some wings who can rebound. That’s a weapon for them. … It’s not a stop until you get a rebound and they pulled away in that stretch in the second half because of it.”
Boise State has finished in the top 25 in defensive rebounding 11 times in 13 seasons under Rice. They’ve never been worse than 59th, and four times they finished in the top 5.
Last season the Broncos ranked 17th nationally, allowing opponents to grab offensive rebounds on just 24 percent of missed shots. The Broncos were 11th two seasons ago and haven’t been lower than 24th since 2017.
But through three games the Broncos rank 236th in defensive rebounding thanks in large part to Sunday’s one-sided margin.
“We knew the rebounding battle was going to be big in this game and it got away from us in the second half,” said Chibuzo Agbo, who led the Broncos with 18 points. “That was the key to the game. If we stay in the rebounding battle it would have gone down to the wire I feel like. We would have had a chance to win.
“But it might have been the wakeup call we needed. We can’t have another rebounding game like that.”
Agbo had 18 points to lead the Broncos, while Martin had 15 points and seven rebounds. O’mar Stanley had 11 points and four rebounds.
Boise State shot just 39 percent from the field, including 7 of 23 from 3-point range, while Clemson shot 51 percent and made 8 of 15 from downtown.
Tyson Degenhart battled foul trouble and had just seven points in 23 minutes. Max Rice also struggled and had just seven points on 2 of 7 shooting.
Boise State trailed 41-38 at the half and had the game tied at 41 early in the second half before the Broncos scored just seven points in a 10-minute stretch and fell behind by as many as 22 points.
The Broncos (2-1) will travel to Orlando on Monday to begin preparations for the ESPN Invitational, which starts on Thursday. The Broncos will play Virginia Tech at 6 p.m. MT in the first round.
“The only thing this means is we’re not going undefeated,” Rice said. “But the next one is coming soon and we have to be a lot better for us to be who we want to be.”