UNLV (18-6) at Air Force (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 13, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Clune Arena (5,843) -- USAFA, Colorado. Television: TWCSN. Home Record: UNLV 14-1, Air Force 10-1. Away Record: UNLV 4-5, Air Force 3-6. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, Air Force 1-1. Conference Record: UNLV 5-4, Air Force 5-4. Series Record: UNLV leads, 29-8.
GAME NOTES: The Air Force Falcons try to avoid their first three-game slide of the season as they clash with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels in Mountain West Conference action at Clune Arena on Wednesday night.
Since rolling up five straight victories in conference play, the Falcons have bowed in two straight and have fallen to 5-4 in conference play as a result. The team was most recently in action over the weekend when it bowed to Nevada on the road, 74-69.
As for the Runnin' Rebels, currently tied with the Academy for fourth place in the league standings with a record of 5-4, they avoided being swept in the season series by New Mexico over the weekend by defeating the nationally- ranked Lobos at home in a 64-55 final. The win also snapped a two-game slide by a UNLV group which has dropped three straight conference road tilts.
The first meeting of the season between these two teams had to go to overtime before the Runnin' Rebels were able to secure the 76-71 win at home last month. With the victory, UNLV advanced to 29-8 in the all-time series and has won 11 straight over the Falcons.
The defense played tough against the Lobos on Saturday as UNLV held the visitors to just 30.0 percent shooting from the floor in the first half and 33.9 percent for the entire game, which included a mere 4-of-22 behind the 3- point line. Except for Khem Birch who finished with only two points, every starter scored in double figures for the Runnin' Rebels, led by Anthony Bennett who not only tallied 17 points, he also captured 12 rebounds. Katin Reinhardt and Bryce DeJean-Jones both dropped in 16 points and Anthony Marshall finished with 11 and six assists.
Bennett has taken over as the leader for the Rebels at this stage of the season, delivering 18.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 53.8 percent from the field. Marshall checks in with 11.0 ppg as the only other double-digit scorer for the group, having also handed out 144 assists in his 24 starts. From a defensive standpoint, UNLV is holding the competition to 38.3 percent success from the floor and just 28.9 percent beyond the arc entering play this week.
It was one of their better offensive efforts in conference play this season, the Falcons shooting 49.0 percent from the floor as they generated 69 points on the road Saturday, but the end result was still a loss for the visitors versus Nevada. Mike Fitzgerald posted a team-best 17 points and pulled down six rebounds, but at the same time he was responsible for five of their 16 turnovers, while Taylor Broekhuis and Michael Lyons chipped in with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Over the course of nine conference games, Air Force has leaned most heavily on the efforts of Lyons (15.4 ppg), Fitzgerald (13.7 ppg) and Todd Fletcher (10.1 ppg), the latter shooting close to 40 percent behind the 3-point line while also being responsible for handing out 36 assists over those contests. Where the team is again lacking is on the glass where they are being beaten by more than seven boards per game due to their lack of size along the front line.
As long as Bennett is working his way towards the basket and using his size to muscle out the opposition, there's no reason to think that the Runnin' Rebels can't get back into the win column on the road in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 68, Air Force 55
02/13 10:31:40 ET