Las Vegas, NV – With three games remaining in the regular ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels still have time to catch up to leading New Mexico, but they'll first have to focus on taking care of the Air Force Falcons in Mountain West Conference action at the Thomas & Mack Center this afternoon.
UNLV, which is a perfect 15-0 at home so far this season, suffered a pair of losses last week to TCU and New Mexico, but bounced back well on Wednesday night with a 75-58 triumph over Boise State at home. With the victory, the team moved to 7-4 in conference play, which has it again tied with San Diego State for second place.
The Falcons, just 2-5 in true road games in 2011-12, won back-to-back games last week for the first time since early January, topping both Wyoming and San Diego State, but the team was unable to run the streak to three straight due to a 65-62 loss versus TCU at home three nights ago. With just three MWC wins in 11 opportunities, The Academy is tied with Boise State for seventh in the league entering the weekend.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Rebels are ahead of Air Force by a 27-8 margin, although the Falcons forced overtime in the first meeting of the season before bowing in the 65-63 final in Colorado Springs last month. The Rebels have been almost unbeatable at home (17-1) over the years and are 15-1 at the Thomas & Mack.
Air Force shot an impressive 59.1 percent from the field in the second half of its meeting with TCU earlier this week, but the squad just couldn't hold on and lost a golden opportunity in the final seconds. Taylor Broekhuis, who missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer in hopes of tying the game, finished with 15 points, six blocked shots and four assists, his point total second only to Justin Hammonds who dropped in 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. Mike Fitzgerald added 13 points and seven boards while Michael Lyons accounted for just nine points after leading the team in scoring in four straight. Lyons, who has played in only 19 of the team's 25 games, paces the group with his 15.6 ppg, while Fitzgerald tacks on another 10.6 ppg. Typically a low-scoring team, Air Force is posting just 61.7 ppg in 2011-12, but at least the defense is holding the opposition to just 59.6 ppg as well.
UNLV built a double-digit lead at the break against the Broncos on Wednesday night by shooting 61.5 percent from the floor and 6-of-11 behind the three- point line, and the squad needed that because after intermission the accuracy dipped to only 37.9 percent from the field. Chace Stanback was one of four players to reach double figures for the Rebels as he dropped in 19 points on 4-of-6 shooting beyond the arc, followed by Brice Massamba with 14, Justin Hawkins 13 points off the bench and Anthony Marshall 11 to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists. The usually reliable Mike Moser had an off night as he tallied just six points, but he did come up with nine boards and four dishes just the same. Even though he had a sub par effort, Moser is still the leader in the scoring department with 14.4 ppg, his 11.0 rpg easily the top number for a UNLV group which is beating the opposition by four rebounds per game. Throw Stanback (13.3 ppg) and Marshall (12.0 ppg) in as typical scoring threats and it is easy to see how this group comes up with 78.7 ppg.