Wichita State (7-0) at Air Force (6-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 2, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Clune Arena (5,843) -- USAFA, Colorado. Television: Local. Home Record: WSU 4-0, Air Force 4-0. Away Record: WSU 1-0, Air Force 1-1. Neutral Record: WSU 2-0, Air Force 1-0. Conference Record: WSU 0-0, Air Force 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Air Force Falcons and the Wichita State Shockers takes place on Sunday at Clune Arena as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge.
The Falcons, who have suffered just a single loss against Colorado last week, are off to an impressive 6-1 start and are undefeated at home in four games. On Wednesday the Academy held a second opponent below 50 points as it scored a 76-47 win over Jackson State in Colorado.
As for the Shockers, they are currently undefeated after seven games, but have only played one true road contest versus VCU back on Nov. 13. More recently the squad was matched up against Tulsa at home on Wednesday and captured an 86-60 win, marking their largest margin of victory to date.
It took a little time for the Shockers to warm up against Tulsa, but eventually the hosts shot 52.2 percent from the floor and turned the ball over just eight times, helping to overcome a mere 9-of-18 performance at the free- throw line. Carl Hall registered a double-double for Wichita State with his 16 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Cleanthony Early with 13 points as the team had a total of 11 players see action and all of them end up in the scoring column. Despite shooting only 5-of-23 from 3-point range, Early is still the leading scorer for the Shockers with his 13.9 ppg, but not far behind is Hall with his 13.6 ppg. Between the pair they are collecting 14.5 rpg which goes a long way in giving the program their 39.4 rpg which is better than seven more rebounds per outing than the opposition. Defensively, WSU is limiting foes to only 36.6 percent from the floor and 58.0 ppg.
Air Force scored the first points of the game against Jackson State and never looked back as the defense for the hosts held the Tigers to only six made field goals in the first half and 14-of-46 (.304) from the floor overall. Offensively, the Falcons were paced by Todd Fletcher who tallied a game-high 20 points, hitting on 5-of-6 shots behind the three-point line, while Michael Lyons and Mike Fitzgerald contributed 14 and 13 points, respectively, as Air Force shot 54.7 percent from the floor in the outing. For a team that historically liked to keep scores low, head coach Dave Pilipovich, who is in his first full season, has his group focusing on moving the ball at a high tempo and that has resulted in an unlikely 82.0 ppg. Lyons is generating 20.7 ppg and Fletcher another 12.0 ppg as the pair have made good on a combined 35 three-pointers over seven games. The team as a whole is shooting 42.0 percent on the perimeter and 51.6 percent from the field overall.
The Falcons have been playing above their heads early on in the season and a team like Wichita State isn't about to be taken in by the hype, even on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wichita State 79, Air Force 71
12/02 10:35:09 ET