Published Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 | 5 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 | 8:02 p.m.
With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror and another week until a big UFC card, this show is all Rebels basketball as Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer, Case Keefer and Taylor Bern break down the up-and-down week that was and what it may mean for the future.
- Control without sacrificing aggression the goal for UNLV’s Dejean-Jones
- UNLV Extras: Can Rebels learn from victory against New Mexico?
- Four-star forward wowed by weekend trip to UNLV
- Motivated Rebels snap skid by controlling New Mexico in the Mack
- Instant Analysis: Rebels begin fixing what was broken in 9-point win against New Mexico
- Take 5: Resetting the storylines halfway through Mountain West play
- UNLV Extras: Assessing the damage after the Rebels drop to 4-4 in league play
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
Air Force 71, UNLV 56
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Michael Lyons scored 27 points and after briefly taking a three-point lead early in the game, UNLV got knocked out of Clune Arena by a motivated Air Force team that won every facet of the game in a 71-56 victory.
The Rebels didn't have any rhythm on offense and they often lost the Falcons on defense. UNLV drops to 18-7 overall and 5-5 in league play while the Falcons are 15-8 and 6-4.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' loss.
Air Force 65, UNLV 51
3:59 remaining in the second half
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The good news is UNLV returns home Saturday. The bad news is everything else about this game.
The Rebels' only guy who could find any success on offense in the first half, Katin Reinhardt, hasn't scored in the second half. Anthony Bennett hasn't played much because of his fouls and the team's 50 percent second-half shooting has done little to get them back into this one.
Just like the Fresno State game, the Rebels will travel home tonight and prepare to fix things at home. The fact that they did that once is about the only positive thing to take away from an otherwise forgettable performance.
Air Force 56, UNLV 39
11:56 remaining in the second half
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — This one is all about pride for the Rebels now, and so far the early returns aren't good.
Anthony Bennett was just called for a technical, his fourth foul, there's a glazed-over look on most of the players' faces. They weren't ready to play from the start and nothing has really changed as the game has progressed.
Fresno State was a worse loss because of the opponent but this one will rank up there because of the lack of effort.
Air Force 43, UNLV 29
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Air Force's Michael Lyons has 19 points and the Falcons led by as much as 17 points in the first half, taking a commanding 43-29 lead into halftime.
UNLV has looked lost at both ends of the floor since the start of the game. On offense, Katin Reinhardt scored 13 of the first 15 points and at the break he has 15. Besides his game, which has been a solid mix of drives and 3-pointers, the Rebels haven't found any consistency on offense. They's shooting 39 percent from the floor and 27 percent from 3.
Anthony Bennett has four points and Anthony Marshall has just two, including three missed 3-point attempts. That's bad enough, but UNLV hasn't helped itself out, either, giving up seven offensive rebounds. Air Force has scored 14 points off seven turnovers and leads fast-break points 11-0 and points in the paint 20-6.
It's hard to find anything positive to say about UNLV right now. Every problem they've had on the road, from poor shooting to poor preparation to lack of effort or at the very least execution has been a problem.
Air Force looks like a team trying to prove a point. UNLV, with the exception of Reinhardt, looks like a team that didn't want to board the plane in the first place.
Air Force 28, UNLV 16
7:42 remaining in the first half
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The way UNLV is getting beat on backdoor cuts, it looks like the Rebels have never played the Falcons before.
Despite knowing that Air Force makes its offensive living on beating people to the basket, the Rebels have looked lost defensively as the Falcons streak past them. That plus a nonexistent offense is what has UNLV in this giant hole.
On offense, Katin Reinhardt has 13 points and Khem Birch has three. Everyone else is 0-for-8, and very few of those shots have come near the paint. UNLV is taking, and missing jumpers while Air Force is going to the other end and getting easy, sometimes uncontested shots.
UNLV 8, Air Force 7
15:34 remaining in the first half
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Rebels' offense, if you can call it that, seems to be relying on long shots to go in. They're open, so it's not the worst plan, but how often is UNLV able to consistently hit shots from long range for two halves on the road?
It's not likely that they'll be able to keep that up, which means sooner or later the Rebels have to get the ball inside. That should be their first option at home and the road, something Rice says all the time, so let's see if they go to it after having a timeout to talk things over.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The things that UNLV did in the beginning of Saturday’s victory against New Mexico — doubling off screens, causing turnovers out top — created the run outs the Rebels so desperately want. It was their key to playing fast and building a lead. And trying those same things against Air Force could put UNLV in a deep hole.
Tonight’s game tips at 6 Las Vegas time on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
The Rebels aren’t in a place where they can completely dictate pace and force the opponent to play UNLV’s style. And taking risks at the top of the key makes the defense susceptible to Air Force’s most frequent offensive attack over the past five years: cuts to the basket.
Against a similar game plan at Boise State a week and a half ago, UNLV fell asleep on multiple backdoor cuts, giving up too many easy points to overcome. And while New Mexico struggles with UNLV in the Mack — the Rebels ran them out of the building last year — Air Force did just fine there a month ago.
In that meeting the Falcons pushed the Rebels to overtime, where it took some heroics from Bryce Dejean-Jones to stave off defeat. Now playing at home, Air Force is even more desperate for a victory than it was last month.
Since their last meeting, the Falcons played themselves onto the NCAA bubble, including a victory against San Diego State at Clune last week. Two straight losses have altered their upward trajectory, and it's possible that this week, which Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich has dubbed “Challenge Week,” will determine the Falcons’ fate. After UNLV they get Colorado State at home. That’s two chances for high-profile victories, and Air Force just may have the personnel (led by senior Michael Lyons) to pull it off.
UNLV coach Dave Rice said he expects to see zone defense for most of the game, and when UNLV is on defense senior Anthony Marshall said his team would switch off all the screens, sometimes putting centers Khem Birch, Quintrell Thomas or Carlos Lopez-Sosa on AFA point guard Todd Fletcher. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, but the Rebels have used that strategy before, including most of the game against UNI back in December.
Whatever UNLV does on defense, that’s what will determine the outcome. Because the Rebels can try to get out and run on offense, but I don’t think they’ll like the results.
THE OTHER SIDE
Air Force projected lineup
G — Todd Fletcher, 6-2, Sr, 9.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4 apg
G — Michael Lyons, 6-5, Sr, 17.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.3 apg
F — DeLovell Earls, 6-5, So, 3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 48.3 ft%
F — Mike Fitzgerald, 6-6, Sr, 10.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 82.4 ft%
F — Taylor Broekhuis, 6-10, Sr, 9.3 ppg, 4 rpg, 56.4 fg%
Sixth man — G, Kyle Green, 6-2, Sr, 6 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 81.6 ft%
Extra storyline: Air Force is 10-1 at Clune Arena this season, its only loss coming on Dec. 2 to Wichita State by three points.
Last meeting: UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones tied the game in the final minute and then scored eight points in overtime for a 76-71 victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Kenpom line: UNLV -3
Vegas line: UNLV -3.5
Bern’s take: I’ve whiffed on the last two road games. You’re going to hope I make it three straight wrong guesses tonight. Air Force 69, UNLV 65