Strong Start Leads Falcons Past Florida A&M 81-48

Jan. 2, 2011

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds told his squad to view its remaining three non-conference games after Christmas as a separate three-game measuring stick.

Despite missing starters Michael Lyons and Taylor Broekhuis for parts of two of the three, Reynolds' Falcons went 2-1 to improve to 9-4 on the season entering conference play.

Broekhuis scored a game-high 15 points to lead Air Force to an 81-48 victory over Florida A&M Sunday as the Falcons rebounded from a Dec. 29 loss to UTEP.

The Rattlers (5-8) missed their first 12 shots and went scoreless for the game's first seven minutes as the Falcons raced to an 18-0 lead. Air Force also had a 16-0 run in the second half and led by as many as 41 in the first meeting between the two teams.

It was the Falcons' biggest margin of victory since defeating Prairie View 75-41 on Dec. 8, 2009 .

"I thought our defensive ball pressure in the first half was as good as we've had all year, and I thought we shared the ball well," Reynolds said. "They're a better team than they showed, and I think the altitude really affected them. It was good to see everybody get an opportunity tonight."

Zach Bohannon added a career-high 11 points for Air Force off the bench, and Tom Fow also chipped in 11. Reynolds played all 15 players on his roster, with 11 of them finding the score sheet.

Florida A&M was just 6-of-25 from 3-point range and shot just 28.3 percent from the field for the game. Conversely, Air Force hit 50.9 percent of its shots, including a 10-for-20 mark from 3-point range.

"If we can get off to a start like that every time, I think we'll win a lot of games," Broekhuis said, laughing. "The big thing for us was that we were all taking good shots and nothing was rushed. Against UTEP, we really didn't play very good defense, so we've really concentrated on getting back to the basics and locking down."

Avery Moore led Florida A&M with nine points.

The Falcons held the Rattlers to 15.6 percent shooting in the first half and tied their highest first-half total of the season, taking a 40-12 lead into the locker room. It was the fewest points the Falcons have allowed in the first half since limiting Dartmouth to 12 points on Dec. 28, 2008 .

The Falcons and their coaching staff have been able to learn a good deal about the squad during its first 13 games of the season.

"We've realized that we're a little deeper now and that, when we don't play defense, we don't win games," Reynolds said. "In the four games we've lost, our opponents have shot over 40 percent, and in the games we've won, they've shot under 40 percent. The things we've really emphasized is to share the ball and really engage defensively."

As his Falcons enter Mountain West Conference play against Utah at home Jan. 5, Reynolds knows the conference slate will be tough sledding.

"It will be a challenge, and I don't know that I've ever seen the teams' rankings as high," Reynolds said. "If we play defensively like we're capable of, I think we can be more competitive in the league than we have been. That's our goal, and we'll see what happens."

Broekhuis said that, despite the tough schedule that awaits, Air Force is eager to square off against conference foes.

"We're excited to get started and can't wait until Wednesday," Broekhuis said. "BYU, San Diego State , New Mexico and UNLV are probably all going to be Top 25 teams, so it's going to be a tough year. But that's all you can ask for - great competition each night."



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