USAFA, CO – Closing in on the 20-win plateau, the 12th-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels take their act on the road tonight as they clash with the Air Force Falcons in Mountain West Conference action at Clune Arena.
Since losing to San Diego State by just two points in the conference opener two weeks ago, the Rebels have rattled off three straight victories in league action. The first two were quite easy as the team topped TCU and New Mexico by a combined 40 points, but on Wednesday night the Rebels were brought back to reality. Suited up against the newest addition to the MWC, Boise State, the Rebels found themselves having to go to overtime on the road, but in the end they still squeezed out the 77-72 victory at Taco Bell Arena.
As for the Falcons, they actually took care of the Broncos in their conference opener rather routinely (74-59), but since then the program has dropped three in a row and all against MWC foes. Most recently, it was TCU that got the better of Air Force three nights ago in a 59-56 final at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Rebels hold a commanding 26-8 advantage, winning the most recent game during the quarterfinals of the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas last season, 69-53. The Falcons have played well at home over the years, posting a 7-9 mark in the series, but heading into tonight's clash the Rebels have reeled off eight straight wins over The Academy.
UNLV led by as many as nine points in the second half against the Broncos on Wednesday night, but still the team was forced to go to overtime but thankfully the Rebels scored the first points of the bonus frame and never trailed, en route to the five-point triumph. Mike Moser had yet another incredible effort for UNLV as he led the team in both scoring and rebounding with 18 points and a staggering 21 boards, his 11th double-double of the campaign. Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield contributed with 15 and 13 points, respectively, the latter handing out six assists as well. Moser has been an absolute beast in the paint for the Rebels with his 11.7 rpg, one of the highest averages in college basketball, his 14.2 ppg trailing only Stanback who is producing 14.7 ppg on the strength of his 47.9 percent accuracy behind the three-point line. Anthony Marshall (12.0 ppg) can not only score the ball he can also get it to teammates in key scoring situations, resulting in 103 assists which is actually second on the roster to Bellfield (9.1 ppg) who has dished out 114 over 22 games.
The Falcons were held silent for the final 4:05 of the second half on Wednesday night as they suffered the three-point loss to TCU on the road. Taylor Broekhuis tried to keep hope alive with his 15 points and seven rebounds, while Mike Fitzgerald and Todd Fletcher chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively, but the team managed just seven points off the bench and a mere four offensive rebounds in the meeting. Despite being held to minimal production yet again, Michael Lyons is still the leading scorer for the Falcons with his 13.8 ppg, his 4.7 rpg also one of the top marks for a program that is notoriously weak on the glass. Fitzgerald is responsible for another 11.3 ppg, but between he and Lyons there's just 29 assists and 63 turnovers, a ration that is far from successful at any level. Nevertheless, the Falcons give themselves a fighting chance thanks to a defense that is one of the best in the nation with holding foes to just 57.3 ppg.