Feb. 1, 2002
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Game 20: Air Force vs. San Diego State
Date: Monday, Feb. 4, 7:05 p.m.
Site: Clune Arena (6,002), USAFA, Colo.
Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs
Records: Air Force is 7-12 overall and 1-5 in the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State is 12-8 and 1-4 in MWC games entering its game on Saturday against New Mexico.
Coaches: Air Force is coached by Joe Scott (Princeton, 1987), who is in his second season with the Falcons. He has a 15-33 overall record at Air Force. Scott came to AFA from his alma mater, Princeton, where he was an assistant coach from 1993-2000.
San Diego State is coached by Steve Fisher (Illinois State, 1967), who is in his third season as head coach of the Aztecs. Prior to taking the head coaching job at SDSU, he was the head coach at Michigan for eight seasons. He led the Wolverines to the 1989 NCAA Championship after taking over late in the season. Fisher has a record of 31-45 at San Diego State.
Series: San Diego State leads the overall series, 32-12. The Aztecs swept a pair of games from Air Force last season, winning 67-43 in San Diego, and 62-48 at Clune Arena.
Scouting San Diego State
San Diego State is 12-8 overall and 1-4 in the Mountain West Conference after defeating non-conference foe Houston, 78-66, at home Tuesday night. The Aztecs lost their most recent MWC game, 80-79 in overtime, to UNLV at home last Saturday.
Junior Tony Bland led San Diego State with a career-high 33 points against Houston. Senior Randy Holcomb added 14 points as the two scored SDSU's first 25 points of the second-half.
Holcomb leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Bland is scoring at a 17.5 clip per game and leads the team with 82 assists.
SDSU's lone MWC victory was an 81-69 decision over Colorado State on Jan. 19. The Aztecs have lost their last two conference games in overtime by a combined four points (UNLV, 80-79, and Wyoming 88-85). San Diego State has played two ranked teams this season. They defeated then No. 21 Fresno State, 93-78, at home on Dec. 8, then played at No. 1 Duke on Dec. 29, losing 92-79.
San Diego State plays at New Mexico on Saturday, Feb. 2, before taking on Air Force. Air Force defeated San Diego State, 81-77 in triple overtime, on Jan. 20, 2000, marking the last conference road win by the Falcons.
Last Time Out
Air Force put a dent in the record book Monday night but came us just short as the Wyoming Cowboys beat the Falcons 83-76 in quadruple overtime in Laramie-.
In the longest game in academy history, A.J. Kuhle played a school record 59 minutes before fouling out.
Kuhle logged the heavy minutes and tied a career-high with 16 points two days after receiving 11 stitches in his right eyebrow against Colorado State.
The game came down to free throws. In the fourth overtime, Wyoming (14-4, 5-0 Mountain West Conference) took one of its widest leads when Paris Corner made two free throws toward a 78-74 advantage.
The Falcons (7-12, 1-5) pulled within 78-76 when Tim Keller made 2-of-3 of three from the line with about a minute left.
The Cowboys ended the game by making 5-of-6 free throws: Donta Richardson made 1-of-2 of two and Corner and Richardson had two each.
"Wyoming has juniors and seniors on the free-throw line at the end," Air Force coach Joe Scott said. "We had freshmen and sophomores at the line. We're growing up. The shots are going to go in in the future."
The overtime ordeal began when Keller made a layup with 2.1 seconds left to tie the score at 52.
Joel Gerlach also had 16 points to lead the Falcons. Lamoni Yazzie had 13 points and Keller 12.
Notes from the Wyoming game
-- The game was the longest in school history and the longest game in MWC history
-- Sophomore forward A.J. Kuhle played a school-record 59 minutes before fouling out. He tied a career-high with 16 points
-- For the fourth time in six MWC games, Air Force held the lead at halftime
-- Freshmen Tim Keller and David Peterson played a career-high 35 and 21 minutes, respectively
-- Junior Vernard Jenkins posted career-highs of six steals and 52 minutes
-- Air Force stole the ball a season-high 16 times
-- The Falcons tied their season-high with 13 three-pointers made (BYU)
-- Four Air Force players fouled out of a game for the first time since Jan. 19, 1989 against BYU when five Falcons fouled out
-- Air Force scored a season-high 76 points
-- AFA has lost 16 consecutive MWC road games
-- The Falcons lost for the 14th straight time in Laramie
Big Monday Matchup
On Monday, Jan. 14, the Falcons made their first appearance on ESPN's "Big Monday" telecast. Air Force had not played on national television since battling San Diego State on ESPN2, Feb. 7, 1998, in San Diego. SDSU won that game 66-55.
The Falcons have two more games on television this season, both on SportsWest (2/9 vs. UNM, 2/18 at BYU).
Career Games at Liberty
Senior Lamoni Yazzie scored a career-high 29 points against Liberty on Dec. 22, and also tied his career-best with six rebounds. Sophomore A.J. Kuhle also posted career-best numbers of eight rebounds and five steals.
Yazzie's 15-of-17 performance from the free throw line against Liberty are MWC highs in both categories. It was the most FT's made in one game by a Falcon since Otis Jones made 17 against Utah on Feb. 19, 1994.
Shooting Down Records
The Falcons set a new school record for the best shooting percentage in one half against Montana State, Nov. 30. Air Force made 82.4% (14-17) of its shots in the first half, including 14 of its first 15 field goal attempts. The previous record was 78.9% (15-19) in the second half against U.S. International on Dec. 7, 1985.
The 71.4% (25-35) shooting performance for the game against Montana State set a new McCaffrey Classic record and is the best by any MWC squad this season.
Jenkins Climbing Career Lists
Junior guard Vernard Jenkins moved into a tie for the No. 7 spot on the school's all-time assist list with two assists against Wyoming. Currently, Jenkins has 247 assists in his career. Vernard tied his season-high with five assists against BYU on Jan. 21.
Jenkins is also tied for No. 4 on the school's list for career steals with Jarvis Croff. He posted a career-high six thefts against Wyoming and has 109 in his career.
Career Assist Leaders at Air Force
# Name, Years Assists
1. Jeff Bowling, 1987, 89-90 447
2. Bob Djokovich, 1975-78 427
3. Todd Beer, 1983-86 355
6. Otis Jones, 1992-95 263
7. Vernard Jenkins, 1999-present 247
Greg Lewis, 1979-82 247
9. Jarmica Reese, 1995-98 221
10. Reggie Minton, 1993-96 220
Career Steals Leaders at Air Force
# Name, Years Steals
1. Raymond Dudley, 1987-90 148
2. Otis Jones, 1992-95 147
3. Jeff Bowling, 1987, 89-90 142
4. Vernard Jenkins, 1999-present 109
Jarvis Croff, 1997-2001 109
Air Force takes on New Mexico at Clune Arena on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast by SportsWest and shown in Colorado Springs on Adelphia Cable Channel 6.
Todd Leaves Team
Sophomore forward Robert Todd left the team during Christmas break.
Todd missed four games while serving a suspension for violating team standards. He ranked fourth on the team in scoring this season with a 7.1 average.
Last season, Todd led all MWC freshmen in scoring and set a new Academy single-season record with a three-point shooting percentage of 45.7%.
Bellairs Reaches Milestone
Junior Tom Bellairs became the 12th player in school history with 500 points and 500 rebounds in a career with three rebounds against UNLV. He has 655 career points and 530 rebounds. Bellairs is tied for 41st on the school's career scoring list and 11th in career rebounds.
Bellairs posted the 12th double-double of his career against UT-Pan American with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He leads all current Falcons in career points and rebounds.
Yazzie Gets 500
Senior team captain Lamoni Yazzie scored the 500th point of his career against BYU. He is the 55th player in program history to reach the 500-point plateau. Yazzie now has 535 points in his career.
Air Force has now made a 3-point shot in 288 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.
AFA's victory over BYU on Jan. 21 snapped a four-game losing streak, the longest of the season for Air Force. Two of those games went to overtime (UT-Pan American and Utah). The Falcons have not won two games in a row this season. Their last two-game winning streak was victories over Denver (51-49) and Cornell (63-51) on Jan. 22 & 29, 2001, respectively.
Field Goal Pct. Among The Best
Through 19 games this season, Air Force's field goal percentage of 47.1 is the best in school history since the 1988-89 team shot 47.7 percent. A closer look at the school's top field goal percentages for a single season:
# Year FG-FGA Pct.
1. 1969-70 663-1353 49.0
2. 1988-89 731-1494 47.7
1978-79 645-1351 47.7
4. 1965-66 767-1614 47.5
5. 1986-87 716-1510 47.4
6. 2001-02 371-788 47.1
7. 1977-78 720-1549 46.5
8. 1980-81 609-1313 46.4
9. 1987-88 712-1552 45.9
10. 1984-85 743-1628 45.6
For the First Time ...
- With its victories over Liberty and Northern Arizona, Air Force won consecutive road games for the first time since Jan. 24 & 26, 1989, against BYU and Utah, respectively.
- Air Force has won two road games in one season for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign. The Falcons defeated Dartmouth and San Diego State away from home that season.
- The victory over Northern Arizona was the first on the road against a team with a winning record since AFA beat Navy, 64-63, in Annapolis on Nov. 30, 1997. Navy was 2-1 entering that game.
- For the first time this season, Air Force won a game while having a lower field goal percentage than its opponent. Northern Arizona shot 48.6% from the floor, compared to 40.5% for Air Force.
- The Falcons have won four games away from Clune Arena in one season for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign. Two of those wins were against San Diego State and Colorado State at the WAC Tournament.
- Air Force posted six non-conference Division I wins for the first time since starting conference play in 1980. AFA won five Division I games outside of league play last season, as well as in 1997-98 and '98-99.
Air Force is now 5-6 in games decided by eight points or less this season. The Falcons were 5-1 in that category, but their last five losses have been by six (UT-Pan American), three (New Mexico), six (Utah), three (CSU) and seven (Wyoming) points.
Playing Everyone Tough
Joe Scott's troops have put a scare into the top teams in the Mountain West Conference. Air Force has taken the two undefeated teams (Utah and Wyoming) to overtime, and lost to third-place New Mexico by three on the road.
60 Points is the Key
Wyoming handed Air Force its first loss of the season when scoring 60 points or more. Air Force is 5-1 when it reaches the 60-point plateau, and 2-11 when it scores less than 60.
The two victories with a point total under 60 are the 57-56 win over Northern Arizona and the 52-44 triumph over Denver.
Before scoring 74 points against BYU on Jan. 21, the Falcons had not hit the 60-point mark since Dec. 22 at Liberty.
Last Year against San Diego State
San Diego State 67, Air Force 43
Jan. 20, 2001 - San Diego, Calif.
Randy Holcomb scored 16 points to lead San Diego State to a 67-43 victory Saturday night at Cox Arena in San Diego, Calif.
Air Force had a night it would just soon forget. The team fought a tough man-to-man defense, a slow start, foul trouble and cold shooting all night. The Falcons started slowly and were never able to recover. Air Force hit just one of its first 11 field goals while falling behind 15-5 with 9:18 remaining in the first stanza. Thankfully for the Falcons, their 2-3 match up zone defense kept them in the game for most of the half while slowing the Aztecs.
Air Force hit a season-low 17.4 percent from the field in the first half while scoring a season-low 14 points. The 14 points are the fewest by an Air Force team since hitting 11 against UTEP in 1993.
San Diego State hit 41.2 percent in the first stanza to take a 28-14 halftime lead. The Aztecs used a 9-0 run during a 5:39 stretch late in the first half to take control. SDSU also out-rebounded the Falcons, 19-11 in the first half.
The second half wasn't much kinder to Air Force. The Falcons were never able to get closer than 13 points in the half. San Diego State used a 13-5 run late in the half to take a 50-29 lead with 5:23 remaining. The Aztecs extended the lead to as many as 26 points.
Air Force finished the game hitting a season-low 25.5 percent from the field, including 20.0 percent (7-35) from three-point land. Croff finished the game with a team-high 14 points, while Lamoni Yazzie added 13. Tom Bellairs, the team's starting center, finished with just three points and a career-low one rebound before fouling out.
San Diego State 62, Air Force 48
Feb. 19, 2001 - Clune Arena
Randy Holcomb scored 18 points and David Abramowitz added 14 to lead San Diego State past Air Force, 62-48, Monday night.
The Aztecs used two key runs in the game, the first to take control of the game and the second to put it away. SDSU used a 15-4 run early in the game to take a 19-12 lead with 6:54 remaining in the half. Abramowitz hit back-to-back three-pointers to key the spurt. Karlo Kavacic hit a jumper at the 10:35 mark during the run to give the Aztecs the lead for good, 11-10.
SDSU steadily built the lead to 10 points, 30-20, at halftime. San Diego State put the game away with a 15-7 run to take its biggest lead of the game, 61-45, with 1:24 remaining. Holcomb scored seven points during the run, including the final two.
The Aztecs finished the game hitting 54.3 percent from the field, including a 66.7 clip on eight-of-12 shooting in the second stanza. SDSU controlled the boards the entire night, finishing with a 31-17 rebounding edge.
Air Force shot just 38.1 percent from the field. The Falcons did hit 10 three-pointers, but on 32 attempts for a 31.3 percentage. Jarvis Croff and Lamoni Yazzie scored 16 points each to lead Air Force. Croff also grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
San Diego State snapped a six-game losing streak with the win. The Aztecs moved to within a half-game of Air Force in the MWC with a 2-9 mark.