Not only were the Boise State Broncos able to snuff out one of the hottest scorers in the country Wednesday night, they were able to catch fire themselves.
Boise State held Air Force guard Michael Lyons, the Mountain West's leading scorer, to 10 points, and found some scoring balance themselves in a 77-65 win.
"A complete game," Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Lyons, who was coming off a 45-point performance Saturday, was held to 2-of-9 shooting and 10 points - his third-lowest showing of the season.
After shooting 57.1 percent from the field, the Falcons were held to 36.7 percent (11-of-30) in the second half, as Boise State yielded 26 fewer points Wednesday against Air Force than it had Jan. 19 in Colorado Springs. Lyons, who sprained a finger in the first half Wednesday, had 37 points in that game.
"We changed up some schemes ... to hold Lyons to that, and we held them to 37 percent in the second half, that's pretty good defense," Boise State guard Jeff Elorriaga said. "We were happy with the way we played. That was a big key, because they blitzkrieged us with 91 points last time."
Though the Broncos (17-8, 5-6 MW) came into the game as the only team in the Mountain West allowing more than 70 points per game in conference play, they have held their past four opponents to 62.3 points per game.
Rice said Air Force (15-10, 6-6) had too many close baskets in the team's last meeting, and the Broncos worked to cut off some of those angles. The Falcons attempted 25 3-pointers in what Rice called "another big step for us defensively."
"They had great intensity on defense," Air Force guard Todd Fletcher said. "Just that alone kind of took us out of the flow we normally have. They were great (Wednesday)."
As strong as the defensive effort was, the showing on the other end matched it, with four players scoring in double figures. In the Broncos' previous game, Saturday at New Mexico, they were held to a season-low 50 points.
Boise State shot 53.7 percent from the field, its best in a conference game since March 4, 2010, and got 22 assists on 29 field goals while only turning it over six times.
"The ball movement (Wednesday) was great, and that's what led us to all those easy baskets," Elorriaga said.
The Broncos had their fair share of open looks, making 10 3-pointers, their most since Jan. 9. Elorriaga bounced back from a 1-of-9 showing Saturday by making 5-of-12 3-pointers.
With Air Force trailing 35-34 at halftime, the Broncos had hoped to be more aggressive, but the long distance shots were open, and they made back-to-back 3-pointers in first 36 seconds of the second half to go up by seven. Air Force never got within five points again.
"It's funny, you spend halftime talking about getting the ball to the hole and getting to the free-throw line, because we hadn't shot any free throws, and right away, it's two quick 3s," Rice said. " Whack, whack, they hit the first two, and that got things rolling."
Anthony Drmic led all scorers with 23 points, 21 in the second half. He scored 18 of the Broncos' first 28 points in the second half, as they led by as many as 21 points. Elorriaga had 17 points, Thomas Bropleh had 10 off the bench and Derrick Marks had 11 points and nine assists.
Boise State, on the bubble for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, moved to within a half-game of the Falcons for fifth in the conference standings with a road game at Fresno State this Saturday.
"This was a crucial game for us, and we knew it," Rice said.