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Opening MWC League Play: Boise State vs. Air Force

The Boise State Broncos (10-5) host the Air Force Falcons (10-4) at Taco Bell Arena in Boise Saturday evening for the first Mountain West Conference game of the season for both teams. The Broncos are still smarting over their last game, a 72-59 loss to Fresno State on January 2nd. That defeat was to the same Bulldog team they beat two weeks earlier 70-63 in a home game. Bronco coach Leon Rice has not been pleased by his team's latest performance.

The Falcons have had their share of bad luck as well. They have been playing without junior guard and leading scorer Michael Lyons, who has been nursing an ankle injury since the Gonzaga game on December 22nd. While Monday's 67-50 win at home over the Texas-Pan American Broncos is nice momentum for the matchup in Boise, Falcon's coach Jeff Reynolds is hoping to have Lyons back for the third road trip of the season for the cadets. Like the Broncos, they are also winless on the road. The other road trips were in December that resulted in losses to Drake, 62-60 and Gonzaga, 70-60.

Riding a 4-game win streak ahead of the trip to Boise could change all that. Led by such players as junior guard Todd Fletcher, junior center Taylor Broekhuis and senior guard-forward Taylor Stewart they look to put Boise State down as their first road win of the season. In their 68-54 victory over Chicago State last Friday (January 6), Broekhuis and Steward each scored 16 points while Fletcher did his part to secure that win with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a couple of steals. In the victory over Texas-Pan American on Monday night Fletcher led four Falcons in double figures with 15 points and Falcon freshman Kamryn Williams showed he is a threat to be reckoned with as well.

Saturday's game will be the Broncos first game after a twelve day break in their schedule. Plagued by injuries to leading scorer Anthony Drmic and to Igor Hadziomerovic, who broke his foot last month and is out for the season, the Broncos have had to rely on others to step up. One was freshman Joe Hanstad, a shooting guard, who relinquished his redshirt after Hadziomerovic was injured. Junior Jarrell Crayton has also found himself carring a load normally reserved for seniors.

With all the Boise State injuries to their starting lineup, the bulk of the work has fallen on JC transfer forward Kenny Buckner and senior guard Westley Perryman. Last game against Frenso, in what has been labeled as one of the worst games of the year, Buckner showed why he is a valuable commodity to the team. He made 6-of-7 shots against the Bulldogs and put up 13 points off the bench. He was the only player to score against them in double figures. Crayton scored a career-high seven points, but the Bulldogs held Drmic, who played injured and who had 26 points just two days earlier against Idaho, to one field goal and only seven points. Perryman had 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals on the night. To Fresno State's credit, the Broncos never led in the game and the Bulldogs took advantage of Boise State's 12 turnovers in the first half and then followed up with a 17-6 run to start the second half.

Saturday's game will be at 4 pm MTN at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.