Rebels basketball:

Blog: Rebels get run over in 71-56 setback at Air Force


Air Force’s Mike Fitzgerald is pressured by UNLV’s Anthony Marshall during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett)

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 | 8:02 p.m.

UNLV vs. Air Force

Air Force's Kamryn Williams greets fans Air Force defeated UNLV 71-56 during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett) Launch slideshow » Sports Talk

That time of year

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.

Air Force 71, UNLV 56

Game over

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 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.


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

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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Previous Discussion: 65 comments so far…

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  1. Geeeze, halfway through the first half and we are being out hustled, out rebounded and out played AGAIN. No inside game, living and dying by the three.

    Sometimes it's painful being a Rebel fan.

  2. I'm beginning to think that we'll go 9-7 in conference play. Believe it or not, that's probably good enough to get into the NCAA Tournament.

  3. Same &*#$ on the road. This is painful to watch. We have a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE advantage inside, why the *(#$ are we not feeding it down low? Because we have to take 20 stupid three point shots, I guess.

  4. Come on Dave, figure it out.

  5. Same old stuff. Talk is so cheap rebels. Oh well nothing more to say. Dr Jeckel Mr Rice, I mean Hyde.

  6. Perfect timing by J-Hawk with that 3 pointer from 2 1/2 feet behind the line down by 17 . . .

    Why doe Rice not sit these guys when they put up STUPID shots?

  7. another pitiful performance by the rebels on the road. i don't even know why they bother to show up.

  8. They look completely unprepared. Even I'll admit that this falls mostly on the coaching staff. However, they're down 14 points, and they still have plenty of time to get back in the game. The game is far from over if they take the game one possession at the time.

  9. How much do they need to lose by for rice to get fired tomorrow?

  10. I couldn't even finish watching this game... we're down by 20 and look like we don't care. TERRIBLE.

  11. I have lost all the enthusiasm I had for Bennett going into this season.

  12. Anthony Bennett has quit, and he's acting like a prima donna. Also, why wasn't Lopez-Sosa put in sooner? One guy playing with energy can do wonders for a team.

  13. I like what Bennett did. If this were the NHL they would take someone's head off and get fired up about it

  14. Reeeegie, Reeeegie, Reeeegie

  15. This is 100% a coaching problem, fire Rice.

  16. @bigfish (Greg Sabataso) - He's a spoiled brat! Give me a break.

  17. On to Stars - Flames peace out walking rebels

    R E G G I E T H E U S

  18. @Reb420plus - The coaching has been terrible, but the players don't want to win.

  19. This is pathetic, Enough is Enough. How do you get their butts whiped so bad like this!

  20. i really don't want to jump on the Fire Dave Rice bandwagon but watching games like this on the road is getting old. It's been almost two seasons now and rice's teams still can't figure out how to play on the road. i want to give rice his time but this is the most frustrating thing to watch considering the amount of talent we have (or supposedly have) and the way we play at home and then don't show up on the road. this is just inexcusable. it's one thing losing to a team on the road but getting blown out by Air Force like this is just embarrassing. And getting blown out by Fresno St was pathetic. Throw in the fact that these are even intimidating places to play and it makes it even worse. I'm starting to hope that UNLV doesn't make the NCAA tournament. They just don't deserve it with the way they are playing. Other teams in the MWC are showing more heart than this team right now and deserve it. UNLV would just disappoint all of us by losing in the first round again like they always do because you know the first round wouldn't be played at the Thomas and Mack.

  21. Hmmm , did I mention they need a coach ? ,,, oh yes I did several times even. Oh by the way,,,,THEY NEED A COACH NOT A BUDDY OF THE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR. I think I mentioned they need a real coach, oh yes I did. thank you.

  22. you know what screw it. FIRE DAVE RICE!!!

  23. I completely agree with everything mj20 posted above. I have tried to not be too critical of Rice thus far, but watching the same pathetic road performances over and over again is getting old fast. If we make the NCAA tourney I see us losing in the first round again as well. And if we keep falling on our faces and end up in the NIT, we better pray for a home game because if we can't even beat Fresno State on the road, I can't see us beating another NIT team on the road either.

  24. Why doesn't Rice just stay at home for road games and maybe let someone else coach. He must have his mind on things at home and can't function on the road,, nawww never mind just fire him.

  25. Its almost like they're little boys that are away at camp and don't want to participate in anything because they're home sick. They can't even COMPETE! I'm done going to bed. Later

  26. sometimes it's not good to have so much talent. just look at the lakers for example. they loaded up with talent and a two coaches that don't know what they are doing and look where it's gotten them. unlv is going down a similar path. maybe unlv should have just stayed with the limited talent and 3-4 star guys that are hungry and want to win. instead we have a bunch of prima donnas that spend too much time on twitter and believe their own hype. and we have a dufus for a coach that has know idea what he's doing.

  27. Bunch of low IQ head cases and a terrible head coach=1st round loss in the NIT...I'd rather root for Nevada Reno than watch this "let's launch 3 after 3 playground basketball."

  28. i can't wait to hear what James P Reza has to say about this game. let's hear you spin this one Reza

  29. I said AF by 6 earlier today but this is just stupid.

  30. Finally that ugly game is over. Now I need something to put me in a better mood...I think I will watch some Mexican soap operas with my wife.....even though I can't understand what the hell they are saying.

  31. Comment removed by moderator. Inappropriate

  32. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - The coaching was bad tonight, but what about the players? The coach can't make the players overcome adversity. Then coach can't play the game for them.

    To those of you who want Reggie Theus, he can't make them overcome adversity. He can't make them play with effort. He can't change their mental makeup. But, once again, the Rebels weren't prepared to defned Air Force, and that falls on coaching.

    Finally, Anthony Bennett doesn't deserve to start. He's built like Tarzan but plays like Jane. He's got no mental toughness, and he dogs it when things don't go his way. He cannot overcome adversity, and that should be a red flag to the scouts.

  33. Rice took over a team and started last season strong then has gone down hill ever since. This team has the ability but when good 18-20 year olds are poorly coached - they fall flat. That is what we are seeing - bad coaching. You can't win one week against the best team in the conference one day at home and then get their heads handed to them on the road a few days later, time and time again and not say its a coaching problem.

  34. Wait a minute. I thought the Rebels had turned the corner; learned their lesson; will play like a desperate team; will play with a sense of urgency; will come out hard? You mean you cannot talk your way to wins? I was just sure that this time would be different. I mean they said it would...

  35. Un. Believable.

  36. Well, look at the bright side: at least we get the keep Bennett for another year.

  37. @Reb420plus - When you can beat the best team in the conference, regardless of location and look good doing it, I don't think coaching is the problem.

    I think the big problem that nobody talks about and that Reggue Theus won't fix is that the Rebels are soft. For example, do you honestly think Reggie Theus can make Bennett into Tarzan and not jane and not give up when things don't go his way?

  38. Dave Rice could possibly be the worst coach in UNLV basketball history?

  39. There is pride in defense, hustle, smarts and tenacity at the Air Force Academy. They exhibit it regularly in football and basketball. It is how you survive in battle and it is how they win on the court and field. My hat is off to them and my shoe is thrown toward Rice and Livengood.

  40. At this point we should let Bobby Hauck coach this basketball team....we have nothing to lose other than our dignity...wait, we lost that at Fresno State.

  41. As I said after the UNM game, we will be on here next game talking about how bad the Rebels are. we are, same stuff different venue.

  42. Can we just fast forward to next year. This season is over! They have little pulse!

  43. It all starts with coaching phillips, you have to instill the confidence in your players, you have to give em the fire they need, you have to show them what they're doing wrong , and you have to know what what they're doing wrong, and you have to chew on em when they need it, Rice has none of that.But first they need to fire livingood because he will not get rid of his BYU buddy, then the first order of buisiness for the new AD is to fire Dave Rice.

  44. Why would Rice care anyway ? he's locked in on a 5 yr contract win or lose. Him and his buddy livingtoogood probably laugh at the whole thing at bbqs at livingtoogooods house.

  45. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - The problem is their lack of heart and mental toughness. No amount of x's and o's can change that. You can't teach intangibles.

  46. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - You honestly don't think that Dave Rice cares? You don't think he has any pride? Money isn't everything.

  47. I'm going to watch the Lady Rebels Softball team tomorrow night against San Jose State at Eller Media Stadium and take a break from men's basketball. The baseball team opens this weekend against Tennessee.

  48. Wow! At least act like you enjoy playing college basketball. Maybe play just a little defense. Oh yeah and rebels the NBA 3 point contest is this weekend in Houston in which none of you will be shooting in.

  49. One very long word: Boooooooooooooo

  50. The way they were highlighting this team I thought nothing less than a final 4 would do. It's good we have a top academic school to fall back on.

  51. And to think there were people who wondered why Shabazz Muhammad didn't sign with UNLV.

    Here's your answer.

    And the calls for Reggie Theus become louder.

  52. Shame, Shame, Shame... I didn't watch the game, just saw the score right now. What the heck. Mr. Rice was totally out coached again. This is just plain pitiful. UNLV is in dire need of a coach. Find one that doesn't stand on the sidelines with arms folded,(now what do I do, what do I do), HELP

  53. Rice must go. Too late this year, but get rid of that loser.

  54. Beat by a team full of lesser athletes....that apparently have a defined offense. that can pass, shoot, and cut better than the rebels. And they make simple plays. Rebels defense was horrid.

  55. If Bennett plays defense like that in the nba he won't make. Dime.

  56. Someone needs to tell bennett(am) when not to taunt the other when you. Are getting smoked by 22 and BDJ get s a layup and ou toss the all to the defender...getting a tech by the way. Or when we are losing to another team and you get a dunk late....AB you realize that when your losing like that you should be quiet.

  57. Louis hit it on the head.....jhawk hasn't hit a shot in 3 weeks but at critical parts of games he still shoots....

  58. When UNLV controlled the league darlings UNM, there were seven comments on the Sun story. SEVEN. Tonight? Fifty-six and counting...

    There are few "fans," and -- given the play tonight -- few "team players." Two guys late for the team bus? What?

    UNLV basketball is dead, long live UNLV basketball.

  59. What the hell does the # of comments have to do with the way the team played?! Of course there will be more comments after a loss! It's logical when you're expected to win games that there will be more comments after losses....

    Back to reality....Rice has lost this team this year. He has no control over them and can't reel them in on the road. His game plan is terrible....too many outside shots at the wrong time. If that's not his game plan, then the team isn't listening to him. He's also done a poor job of mentoring these kids on how to handle playing from behind before the game slips away. Once they fall behind, they slip up big. He needs to address these issues...

  60. @HoosierBoy - You can't comment if you didn't watch the game. How come you don't put any blame on the players? They didn't even show up?

  61. Looking like UNLV really wants a high ranking for the NIT... On the plus side at least the season is almost over!

  62. @GoBruins - At least they'll be on ESPN.

  63. UCLA just got blown out by a Cal team UNLV beat on the road. The Rebels might really suck on the road, but the Bruins just plain suck...and so does the PAC-12.

  64. It's still possible UNLV can win out and end up 11-5. And it's also possible the Rebels can lose 4 out of 6 and end up 7-9. I still believe Rice is the right guy. I expected a bumpy road for a couple yrs. But it's time to put his foot down, sit the players that lack effort (no matter who they are) and adopt two things from Lon Kruger: Play every possession like it's your last and if you get beat on D, have a seat.

  65. There are so many things to fix it may be too late this year:
    1. Move your feet on defense. Duct tape their arms to their sides on defense in practice if you have to but get them to move their feet.
    2. Get it into the high/low post and back out against a zone instead of jacking up bad 3s or just dribbling or passing around the perimeter.
    3. Transition offense and transition defense is terrible. The few times there is a 2 or 3 on 1 we seem to throw it away.
    4. We were supposed to have the best front court in the country. Use those big butts, get position, hold position and block out. Our waist-down strength is pitiful.
    5. Unforced turnovers? Next! Pull the guy and put a fresh player in. 11 guys can play, punish stupid mistakes and get them in the game. Take care of the ball on every possession. Get a good shot on every possession.
    6. You want to give shooters the green light? Fine, but only if there is a teammate or two under the basket or at least in the same zip code.