Drmic shows that he's one tough Aussie

Anthony Drmic has been the biggest factor in Boise State's strong start to the season. And his head coach is pleasantly surprised by one of his traits. The freshman from Australia is a proficient 3-pointer shooter but showed that toughness is part of the package when he returned from an ankle injury to score a career-best 26 points in a 76-73 victory over Idaho on Dec. 31.

You see, Drmic could barely stand up two days prior to the game due to the injury he suffered on Dec. 19 against Fresno State.

"I'm telling you two days ago he couldn't walk," Broncos coach Leon Rice said after a performance that included six 3-point baskets. "I was counting on his toughness. That kid is one of the toughest kids I've ever coached."

Drmic is the lone player scoring in double figures for the Broncos (10-4) as they finish nonleague play against Fresno State on Jan. 2. He is averaging 14.9 points and has a team-leading 38 3-pointers.

Drmic's scoring output against Idaho was the highest by a Boise State freshman since Steve Shepherd also scored 26 against Montana State during the 1993-94 season.

Most remarkable was that Drmic played 31 minutes on a sore ankle that caused him to grimace a few times while landing.

"It was hurting but I just came out and played as hard as I could and played my role," Drmic said. "When you hit four of your first five shots, it's huge. You just get a lot of confidence and feel like you can hit any shots."

NOTES, QUOTES
--Boise State played in-state rival Idaho at the Idaho Center in Nampa, located 22 miles west of the Boise State campus.

The two teams had been in the Western Athletic Conference in recent seasons but Boise State moved to the Mountain West and the neutral-court contest was hatched as a way to keep the series going.

A decision hasn't been reached on what to do next season but Vandals coach Don Verlin made it clear his program will play Boise State on whatever date and at whatever neutral venue the Broncos agree to. Boise State coach Leon Rice said the decision will be made after the season.

Players on both sides made it clear they want the game to be played.

"Half-Boise, half-Idaho," freshman Anthony Drmic said of the 7,540 fans that made for a fun atmosphere. "It was amazing and it was definitely a good experience. I look forward to doing it again in the future."

--The 26 points scored by Drmic were the most by a player on either team in the Boise State-Idaho rivalry since Bryan Defares had 28 points for the Broncos during the 2002-03 season.

--Boise State committed a season-low seven turnovers against Idaho. The previous low was eight, accomplished twice.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Number of games Boise State has won outside the state of Idaho.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It felt like it went on for about an hour -- the last minute of the game. That's what we have to learn as a young team, how to close out games." -- Guard Anthony Drmic on surviving in the final seconds against Idaho.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Fresno State, Jan. 2

KEY MATCHUPS: Forward Ryan Watkins had a career night when Boise State defeated the Bulldogs 80-73 on Dec. 19. Watkins had 18 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. The Broncos had trouble defending Bulldogs guard Kevin Olekaibe, who had 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

FUTURES MARKET: Freshman guard Joe Hanstad had his redshirt pulled after Igor Hadziomerovic suffered a season-ending foot injury. He has played just 21 minutes in three games without scoring a point. It could end up being a lost season for Hanstad since most coaches shorten the rotation once they get into conference play. Hanstad was an offensive force as a high school player in North Dakota.

PLAYER NOTES
--Freshman F Anthony Drmic
has three 20-point outings after the 26-point performance against Idaho.
--Senior PG Westly Perryman had a career-best nine assists in the win over Idaho.
--Junior C Kenny Buckner has more offensive rebounds (35) than defensive boards (28).



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