When Air Force senior guard Michael Lyons dropped 45 points in 33 minutes against No. 22 Colorado State on Saturday, his proud father was watching.
Michael Lyons Sr. had come in from Virginia to see his son cap off a week in which he scored 72 points in games against Colorado State and UNLV.
Sadly for Air Force, and perhaps luckily for Boise State, the elder Lyons won't be in attendance at Taco Bell Arena on Wednesday when the Falcons (15-9, 6-5) travel to take on the Broncos (16-8, 4-6).
The game starts at 6 p.m. (KBOI 670 AM, no television).
"When his parents show up for a game, he's usually been pretty good," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "If I was allowed to, I'd fly them in (Wednesday)."
Following his scoring surge, which netted him Mountain West player of the week honors, Lyons is the league's leading scorer, averaging 19.2 points per game.
Those 45 points topped Lyons' career-high of 37 - which he posted Jan. 19 against Boise State in Colorado Springs. Boise State coach Leon Rice praised Lyons' ability to score from all over the floor.
"When you watch that game against Colorado State, it's as impressive as any game I've seen this year, with any college player," Rice said of Lyons' 17-of-25 shooting performance.
Lyons, who was 13-of-18 against Boise State, is shooting 48.7 percent from the field this season, fourth in the Mountain West. He's put up 343 shots, most in the league.
"He's been more committed each year, he's developed a little bit different part of his game - he's become a better 3-point shooter, he's posting up more, stronger at attack the rim - and this year, he's been more determined defensively," Pilipovich said. "He's probably made our biggest improvement on the defensive end."
Boise State guard Anthony Drmic recalls that Lyons' first shot Jan. 19 was a bankshot 3-pointer. He said "it's definitely key we slow him down," but also noted that the senior-laden team, which is scoring 68.5 points per game in league play, has a strong system that happens to have a great scorer.
The Falcons, like their football compatriots, run an offense that looks simple, but succeeds in precision execution (No. 1 in the league in turnover margin), patiently awaiting a mistake with consistent motion and backdoor cuts.
"A great offensive team they hope that you break down on defense, so they can get easy baskets," Drmic said.
Boise State has not given away too many of those easy baskets recently, holding its last three foes to 63 points or less, an improvement from the 74.6 points per game the Broncos had given up in their first seven league games.
"I think we're just maturing defensively, we're a little more disciplined," Rice said. " the defensive end is where you're seeing the most maturity."
With the top two scoring tandems in league play in Drmic and Derrick Marks (33.8 ppg) and the Falcons' Lyons and Mike Fitzgerald (32.4 ppg), both defenses will no doubt have their work cut out for themselves.
"It's going to be a fun game to watch, I know that," Rice said.
NOTES: Boise State had about 5,400 tickets out for the Air Force game as of Tuesday afternoon. It's Military Appreciation Night, with $6 tickets for active and retired members of the military, their family and friends. Tickets can be purchased at idahotickets.com or by phone at 426-4737.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn