Air Force (15-9) at Boise State (16-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 20, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Taco Bell Arena (12,480) -- Boise, Idaho. Television: None. Home Record: AF 11-2, BSU 10-1. Away Record: AF 3-6, BSU 4-7. Neutral Record: AF 1-1, BSU 2-0. Conference Record: AF 6-5, BSU 4-6. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: The Air Force Falcons try to bounce back from a disappointing setback over the weekend, as they challenge the Boise State Broncos in Mountain West Conference action at Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday.
The Falcons had just come off a 71-56 thrashing of UNLV at home three days earlier and appeared to have their hooks into nationally-ranked Colorado State at Clune Arena last Saturday as well, but the Academy could not hold on as it bowed to the Rams in an 89-86 final. The setback for Air Force was the third in the last four outings and dropped the group to 6-5 in league play with just weeks remaining in the regular season.
As for the Broncos, a team which showed so much promise as it opened the 2012-13 campaign with 13 wins through the first 15 contests, the MWC slate has been a different story altogether. Also clashing with a nationally-ranked squad from the MWC, Boise took on New Mexico in The Pit last Saturday and was sent packing following a 60-50 defeat. The loss was the second in three games for BSU which is now two games under .500 (4-6) in conference play.
Air Force erupted for a 91-80 victory in the first meeting of the season at Clune Arena last month, which means the series is now tied at two games apiece.
It was a masterful performance that just came up short, but still there is plenty of great things to say about the 45 points Michael Lyons delivered against Colorado State over the weekend. The output was the third-highest scoring total in a Division I game this season and the third-highest MWC regular-season total as well. Lyons sank 17-of-25 from the floor, his field goals being the second-most in program history so it should come as little surprise that he was named the MWC Player of the Week for his efforts.
Lyons, who also scored 27 points and handed out a season-high four assists in the win over UNLV for the Falcons, is now averaging 19.2 ppg for a program that is generating 72.5 ppg. Mike Fitzgerald checks in with another 10.2 ppg and has combined with Lyons to clear more than eight rebounds per outing, but still that can be a spot where the Falcons are exposed from time to time.
The Broncos certainly made things interesting against New Mexico on the road over the weekend, but the visitors ended up shooting just 37.0 percent from the floor, 5-of-20 beyond the arc and 5-of-10 at the free-throw line, and add to that 17 turnovers and it was no wonder that BSU could not remain competitive down the stretch. The only player scoring in double figures was Derrick Marks with 19 points, adding seven rebounds to his line, while Kenny Buckner cleared 11 rebounds off the bench, but there was no overcoming the 2- of-10 shooting performance of Jeff Elorriaga who missed all but one of his nine attempts on the outside.
In conference play, the Broncos have been knocked down a few pegs, scoring only 66.4 ppg while giving up 70.6 ppg. Marks paces the group with his 17.4 ppg and is also first with 24 assists and 13 steals, but those just barely cover his 33 turnovers in nine league bouts. Anthony Drmic may be just a 38.9 percent shooter, but he is also a threat to have a big game as he averages 16.4 ppg.
Expecting Lyons to come back and have another massive game for the Falcons is asking a lot, but to expect Air Force as a whole to have a strong game and complete the season sweep versus Boise State may not be out of the question.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 77, Boise State 64
02/20 11:05:28 ET