Falcons Look For First MWC Road Win at Utah

    Joel Gerlach posted his first career double-double last Saturday against UNLV
    Joel Gerlach posted his first career double-double last Saturday against UNLV

    Jan. 29, 2003

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    Site: Huntsman Center (15,000), Salt Lake City, Utah

    Television: None

    Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs

    Records: Air Force is 10-7 overall and 1-3 in the MWC. Utah is 14-4 overall and 2-1 in the MWC.

    Coaches: Air Force is coached by Joe Scott (Princeton, 1987), who is in his third season with the Falcons. He has a 27-47 record in his tenure at Air Force. Scott came to AFA from his alma mater, Princeton, where he was an assistant coach from 1993-2000.

    Utah is coached by Rick Majerus (Marquette, 1970), who is in his 14th season as head coach of the Utes. Prior to taking the Utah coaching job, he was the head coach at Ball State for two seasons. Majerus was also the head coach at Marquette for three years. He has a record of 296-86 at Utah, and a career mark of 395-138 in his 19th season.

    Series: Utah leads the overall series, 37-7. The Utes swept a pair of games from Air Force last season, winning 63-57 in overtime at Clune Arena, and 59-51 in Salt Lake City. AFA's last victory against Utah came on March 1, 2001, a 71-60 win at Clune Arena.

    Scouting Utah
    Utah is 14-4 overall and 2-1 in Mountain West Conference play after defeating BYU, 79-75, in Provo last Saturday. The Utes snapped BYU's 44-game home winning streak, which was the longest in the country. Utah has defeated UNLV, 66-63, in Las Vegas, and dropped a 58-56 decision to San Diego State. This Saturday will mark Utah's first home MWC game of the season. Marc Jackson led Utah with 17 points against BYU, including 13-for-13 from the free throw line. He added a game-high five assists as well. Tim Frost chipped in with 16 points while Britton Johnsen added 12 points and 12 rebounds. Frost and Nick Jacobson lead the team in scoring, each averaging 12.6 points per game. Johnsen follows at 12.1 points per game and is the team's top rebounder, averaging 6.8 per contest. Tim Drisdom leads the team and is fourth in the MWC in assists, dishing out 3.5 per game. Utah finished second in the MWC last season, and lost to UNLV in the MWC Tournament semifinals. The Utes then fell to Indiana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Need a Win on the Road
    Air Force enters its game at Utah this Saturday with a 22-game road losing streak against Mountain West Conference opponents. The Falcons won their first-ever MWC road game, 81-77 in three overtimes at San Diego State on Jan. 20, 2000, and have not won a conference game away from home since. AFA is 0-2 on the road this season, losing at Colorado State (51-49) and Wyoming (46-44).

    Tops in NCAA Stats
    The Falcons are currently ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 52.9 points per game. Air Force is in the top 10 in the country for the following categories:

    Category, #, Rank
    Scoring Defense, 54.0, 1st
    Three-pointers made per game, 9.4, T, 4th
    Turnovers per game, 11.5, 6th
    Three-point percentage, 41.7, T, 7th

    60 Points is the Key
    The 60-point mark seems to be important for the Falcons this season. Air Force is 7-0 when it reaches the 60-point plateau, and 3-7 when it scores less than 60. The only victories this season with a point total under 60 are the 57-52 win at Arkansas State, and home wins over Navy (56-43) and Savannah State (56-33). Defensively, the Falcons are 8-2 when allowing less than 60 points to an opponent, and 2-5 when their opponent scores more than 60. CSU (51-49) and Wyoming (46-44) are the only two teams to beat Air Force when scoring less than 60 points.

    Three-Point Streak
    Air Force has now made a 3-point shot in 314 consecutive games. The last time the Falcons failed to make a three-pointer was Dec. 4, 1991 in a 57-51 victory over Adams State College.

    What's next
    The Falcons continue MWC play on the road with a game against BYU on Monday, Feb. 3 in Provo. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MST.

    Highest Computer Rankings Ever
    AFA's RPI ranking of 139 on Monday, Jan. 27 is the highest ever for a Falcon team. The team's highest mark in the Sagarin Ratings this season was 70th on Dec. 16.

    Three's Company
    Air Force is currently tied for fourth in the nation in three-pointers made per game, after spending most of the season in the top two. AFA is sinking 9.4 long range shots each contest. AFA's 66.7 percent (16-24) against Ga. Southern on Jan. 1 was a season-high and the best percentage since shooting 69.2 percent from long range against Montana State on Nov. 30, 2001. AFA is making 41.7 percent (160-384) of its shots from beyond the line. Individually, Air Force has two of the top six 3-point percentage shooters in the Mountain West Conference. Tim Keller leads the conference at 47.0 percent (55-of-117), while Joel Gerlach is sixth at 43.9 percent (29-of-66). A.J. Kuhle is ninth at 43.3 percent (26-of-60).

    Big Monday Matchup At Home
    For the first time since Feb. 1, 1992, Air Force will host a nationally televised game when ESPN shows the AFA-Wyoming game on Monday, Feb. 17 as part of its "Big Monday" tripleheader. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. MST. The Falcons have three other games on television this season, two on SportsWest (March 1 vs. BYU and March 8 vs. New Mexico) and one on ESPN-Plus (Feb. 15 vs. Colorado State).

    Keller Shooting
    Tim Keller is among the best shooters in the country, as evidenced by the latest NCAA statistics. Keller is 13th in the nation in three-point percentage, making 47.0 percent of his three-pointers (55-117), and his 3.2 three-pointers made per game is No. 21 in the nation.

    Bellairs Fifth Player to 800 / 600
    Tom Bellairs became the fifth player in school history to record 800 points and 600 rebounds in a career after scoring five points against Oakland. He has 859 points and 657 rebounds in 97 career games. Bellairs moved into the No. 4 spot on the school's all-time rebounding list this season and is tied for 27th on the school's scoring chart with Tyron Wright. Bellairs is No. 3 on the MWC's all-time rebounding list, behind Josh Davis (795), who played at Wyoming, and UNLV senior Dalron Johnson (747).

    New Long Range Records
    Air Force set a new school and Mountain West Conference record with 18 three-pointers against UT-Pan American on Dec. 5. The previous school record was 16 made against Doane College on Nov. 22, 1997. The previous MWC record of 17 was shared by Utah and Colorado State. The 18 three-pointers ties for the third-most in one game for Division I this season. The Falcons are also tied for No. 7 (16 vs. Georgia Southern) and No. 14 (15 vs. Stetson) on the list for most three-pointers made in one game this season. Air Force is the only team in the country that appears three times in the top 25 for this category.

    Last Time Out
    Air Force 75, UNLV 71
    Jan. 25, 2003 at Clune Arena

    Tim Keller had 19 points and Joel Gerlach added 18 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double as Air Force beat UNLV 75-71 on Saturday. A.J. Kuhle also had 18 points and Tom Bellairs had 13 for Air Force. Marcus Banks had 28 points and Dalron Johnson had 16 for UNLV. It was the first time Air Force has beaten UNLV since their inaugural meeting Jan. 10, 1981. Air Force snapped a three-game losing streak while UNLV lost its third straight. Air Force, known for its 3-point shooting, outscored the Runnin' Rebels 30-14 in the paint and out-rebounded them 27-24. "Coach Scott said they were similar to us," Keller said. "They didn't have a big team. Coach told us to get in there and get rebounds." Leading 28-25 at the break, Air Force spread its offense to open up layup opportunities in the second half. A layup by Gerlach with 4:47 left put Air Force up 59-52. Air Force then scored its final 16 points of the game from the free throw line. Air Force shot 53.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from 3-point range. Air Force's defense held UNLV to 49 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent on 3-pointers. The Falcons entered the game with the nation's top scoring defense, giving up 52.9 points per game.

    Notes from the UNLV Game
    -- Joel Gerlach pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds
    -- A.J. Kuhle tied his career-high with eight rebounds
    -- Tim Keller tied his career-high with four assists
    -- Keller has scored in double figures in 15 of 17 games this season
    -- Gerlach has scored in double figures in 13 of 17 games this season
    -- Tom Bellairs tied his career-high with six assists
    -- A.J. Kuhle's 18 points his most since scoring 23 at Georgia Southern (11 games)

    -- Air Force snapped its 14-game losing streak against UNLV (Last AFA win, Jan. 10, 1981, 51-50 at Clune Arena, First meeting ever)
    -- AFA broke a nine-game MWC regular-season losing streak (Last MWC win, Feb. 9, 2002, 53-49 over UNM at Clune Arena)
    -- Broke a 10-game MWC overall losing streak counting loss to Wyoming at MWC Tournament
    -- Air Force improves to 7-1 at home this season
    -- Air Force led at halftime for the 13th time in 17 games this season (10-3 record)
    -- First 10-win season since 1998-99 (Finished 10-16)
    -- Quickest Air Force team to 10 victories since 1977-78 (15 games that season)
    -- Air Force has outrebounded its opponents four times in 17 games this season (4-0 record)
    --First time Air Force has outrebounded a MWC opponent in 15 games (vs. BYU, Jan. 21, 2002)

    Jenkins Climbing Career Lists
    Senior guard Vernard Jenkins has moved into the top five on two of the school's career lists. He is fourth on the school's all-time assist list with 314 career assists, and No. 4 on the school's list for career steals. He has 133 steals in his career. Jenkins is the Mountain West Conference's all-time leader in steals, and is third all-time in assists, behind Matt Montague (439) and Marlon Parmer (384), who played at BYU and New Mexico, respectively.

    AFA in Conference Statistics
    Several Air Force players are among the top 10 for Mountain West Conference statistical leaders as of Tuesday, Jan. 28.

    Tim Keller
    #1 -- three-pointers made per game, 3.24
    #1 -- three-point field goal percentage, 47.0
    #2 -- steals per game, 1.82
    #8 -- points per game, 14.9

    Joel Gerlach
    #4 -- blocked shots per game, 1.29
    #6 -- three-point field goal percentage, 43.9
    #8 -- field goal percentage, 51.8
    #9 -- three-pointers made per game, 1.71
    #10 - free-throw percentage, 73.9

    A.J. Kuhle
    #7 -- field goal percentage, 53.4
    #8 -- three-point field goal percentage, 43.3
    #9 -- assists per game, 2.94

    Tom Bellairs
    #1 -- assist/turnover ratio, 1.86
    #7 -- assists per game, 3.18

    Gerlach's First Double-Double
    Junior Joel Gerlach posted his first career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against UNLV. It marked the first double-double for any Falcon this season. Senior Tom Bellairs has 12 career double-doubles, which ties Brian Greene of Colorado State for the third-most by any active MWC player.

    Home Sweet Home...
    Air Force is 7-1 at home against Division I opponents for the first time in program history. Also, the team's six-game home winning streak to start the season marked the first time in school history AFA won its first six Division I home games. The Falcons won those six home games by an average of 22.2 points. For the first time in 30 years, Air Force won each of its first two home games by more than 20 points. The 29-point victory over Stetson on Nov. 26 was followed up with a 21-point win over UT-Pan American on Dec. 5. The last time that happened was at the start of the 1972-73 campaign, when the Falcons beat Tulane, 81-59, and Colorado State, 78-57.

    ...Road Sweet Road?
    With the victory at UTEP on Dec. 28, Air Force has won three true road games in the same season for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign. Prior to this season, the Falcons had not won three Division I road games in a season since 1988-89, when AFA won consecutive games at Wyoming, Utah and Brigham Young.

    Most Non-Conference Victories
    With its victory over Savannah State on Jan. 6, the Falcons set a new program-record for the most non-conference wins in one season with nine. The 1988-89 Air Force team won eight games prior to starting conference play, with four of those being non-Division I teams, while the 1982-83 and 1998-99 squads each won seven non-conference games. In each of those seasons, three of the wins were against non-Division I schools.

    Close Calls
    Air Force has had its share of close games since Joe Scott took over as head coach prior to the 2000-01 campaign, especially on the road. Of the Falcons' 16 road losses against conference opponents the last 2+ seasons, 11 of them have been by eight points or less, including six by five points or less. Including the losses at Colorado State and Wyoming two weekends ago, the Falcons' last three road conference losses have been by two points. The last four games against MWC teams away from Clune Arena have been decided by two points counting the MWC Tournament game against Wyoming.

    A Thin Bench
    Air Force's starters scored all 44 points against Wyoming. In fact, only four Falcons scored as Vernard Jenkins was held scoreless. It marked the first time this season that none of Air Force's subs scored. In the team's four MWC games this season, AFA's bench has been outscored 52-20.



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