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Feb. 27, 2003
Date: Saturday, March 1, 4:07 p.m. MST
Site: Clune Arena (6,002), USAFA, Colo.
Television: Televised by SportsWest, Tom Kirkland (play-by-play) and Craig Hislop (analysis) with the call. Shown in the Colorado Springs area on KXTU (Channel 7 on Adelphia Cable).
Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs.
Records: Air Force is 11-13 overall and 2-9 in the MWC. The Falcons have lost three games in a row. BYU is 18-7 overall and 7-3 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 28-53 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.
BYU is coached by Steve Cleveland (UC Irvine, 1976), who is in his sixth season as head coach of the Cougars. Prior to taking the BYU coaching job, he was the head coach at Fresno City College. Cleveland has a record of 103-76 at BYU.
Series: BYU leads the overall series, 40-8. BYU defeated Air Force, 65-33, earlier this season in Provo. The teams split a pair of games last season, with AFA beating the Cougars, 74-64, at Clune Arena.
BYU is 18-7 overall and 7-3 in Mountain West Conference play after losing to Utah, 71-64, in Salt Lake City on Monday. The Cougars have lost two of their last three games after starting the conference season at 6-1. BYU has lost twice to Utah and fell at UNLV, 61-54, on Feb. 14.
Travis Hansen and Rafael Araujo led BYU with 13 points against Utah, with Araujo collecting a team-high six rebounds. Mark Bigelow chipped in with 12 points while Jared Jensen and Kevin Woodberry each scored eight. Bigelow had four rebounds and three steals.
Hansen leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game. Bigelow follows at 13.6 points per game and Araujo is second in the MWC in rebounding, averaging 8.6 per contest. Hansen is the team's assist leader with 67, while Woodberry's 38 steals is a team-high.
BYU finished tied for fourth in the MWC last season, and lost to eventual MWC champion San Diego State. The Cougars defeated UC Irvine in the first round of the NIT before falling to eventual champion Memphis in the second round.
Tops in NCAA Stats
The Falcons are currently ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 57.5 points per game. AFA is ranked in the top 20 nationally in the following categories:
Category -- # -- Rank
Scoring Defense -- 57.5 -- 1st
Turnovers per game -- 11.6 -- 9th
Field-goal percentage -- 48.5 -- 13th
Three-pointers made per game -- 8.6 -- 13th
Three-point percentage -- 39.2 -- 20th
60 Points is the Key
Air Force's 74-70 loss to UNLV was the team's first when scoring more than 60 points in a game.
Air Force is now 8-1 when it reaches the 60-point plateau, and 3-12 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 8-3 when allowing less than 60 points to an opponent, and 3-10 when their opponent scores more than 60. CSU (51-49), Wyoming (46-44) and Utah (45-35) are the only teams to beat AFA when scoring less than 60 points.
Air Force has now made a 3-point shot in 321 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.
Air Force continues its three-game homestand against Utah on Monday, March 3, at 7:07 p.m.
Highest Computer Rankings Ever
AFA's RPI ranking of 135 on Sunday, Feb. 2 was the highest ever for a Falcon team. The team's highest mark in the Sagarin Ratings this season was 70th on Dec. 16.
Air Force scored just 68 points in its games at Utah and BYU, the lowest total for consecutive games in school history, surpassing the mark of 75 for games at UTEP (L, 35-66) and home vs. Wyoming (L, 40-54) during the 1981-82 season, . Also, the 33 (at Utah) and 35 (at BYU) points are No. 3 and 4, respectively, on AFA's list for fewest points scored in one game.
Air Force is 13th in the nation in three-pointers made per game after spending the first half of the season in the top two. AFA is sinking 8.6 long range shots each contest, still No. 1 in the MWC.
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 39.2 percent (206-525) of its shots from beyond the line.
Individually, Tim Keller is second in the MWC for three-point percentage at 47.7 percent (74-of-155) and three-pointers made per game at 3.08. Joel Gerlach is tied for seventh in the conference in 3-point percentage at 43.5 percent (37-85) and ninth in 3-pointers made at 1.54.
Still Searching for a Road MWC Win
After its 74-70 loss at UNLV on Monday, Air Force now has a 27-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 went 0-7 on the road for the third consecutive season.
Field Goal Pct. Among The Best
After 24 games this season, Air Force's field goal percentage of 48.5 is the best in school history since the 1988-89 team shot 48.9 percent, which is the second-best field-goal percentage in one season in school history.
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. He has 899 points and 682 rebounds in 104 career games.
Bellairs needs eight rebounds to move into the No. 3 spot on the school's all-time rebounding list and is 25th on the school's scoring chart.
Bellairs is No. 4 on the MWC's all-time rebounding list, behind UNLV senior Dalron Johnson (808), Josh Davis (795), who played at Wyoming, and current Wyoming senior Uche Nsonwu-Amadi (709).
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 fourth-most in one game for Division I this season. The Falcons are also tied for No. 10 (16 vs. Georgia Southern) on the list for most three-pointers made in one game this season.
Air Force and Temple are the only teams that appear twice in the top 30 for this category.
Last Time Out
UNLV 74, Air Force 70
Feb. 24, 2003 at Las Vegas, NV
Marcus Banks scored 31 points to lead UNLV past Air Force, 74-70, Monday night in a Mountain West Conference game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
Banks scored 12 of 14 points for the Rebels during a stretch late in the game to hold off an Air Force rally. Trailing 51-41 with just over 10 minutes remaining, the Falcons slowly and steadily cut into the UNLV lead and got as close as two points, 69-67, with 19 seconds remaining. Dalron Johnson hit four consecutive free throws from their to push the lead back to six points, 73-67, with 5.5 seconds remaining. AFA's Tim Keller hit a late three-pointer and JK Edwards of UNLV hit a free throw in the final seconds to make up the final margin.
Keller and Gerlach each scored 21 points to lead Air Force. Tom Bellairs chipped in with his 13th career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Falcons finished the game hitting 54.8 percent from the field and hit a season-high for a conference game 11 three-pointers.
Johnson added 17 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the Rebels. Jermaine Lewis added 15 points, all in the first half as the Rebels withstood a red-hot start by Air Force. The Falcons hit their first seven and eight of their first nine field goals to start the game. Despite the hot shooting, the Falcons were unable to build a lead larger than two points. The team closed the half hitting 57.9 percent from the field while allowing 55.6 percent shooting.
UNLV improves to 17-8 overall and 6-5 in MWC play with the win. The Falcons fell to 11-13 overall and 2-9 in the conference. The loss marks the first time this season AFA has fallen two games below .500 on the year.
Notes from the UNLV Game
-- A.J. Kuhle scored his 500th career point. Kuhle has 507 points in 78 games as a Falcon.
-- Joel Gerlach has scored in double figures the last two games. The junior forward had gone five consecutive games without double figures. Gerlach became the 31st player in school history to score 800 career points.
-- Tom Bellairs recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The double-double is the 13th of his career.
-- Vernard Jenkins returned to the starting lineup after missing two games and three starts due to an injured ankle.
-- Marcus Jenkins saw his first action in four games and played in just his second MWC game.
-- Air Force suffered its first loss this season when scoring 60 or more points. The team had won its previous eight games when scoring 60-plus.
-- Air Force has now hit 50 percent or better from the field in four straight games.
-- The Falcons hit their first seven and eight of their first nine shots (five three-pointers and three lay ups).
-- Air Force's 11 three-pointers marks the first time this season in conference play that AFA has hit 10 or more three-pointers in back-to-back games.
-- Air Force fell to 0-10 this season when trailing at the half.
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 323 career assists, and No. 4 on the school's list for career steals. He has 137 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 Feb. 25.
#2 -- three-pointers made per game, 3.08
#2 -- three-point field goal percentage, 47.7
#2 -- steals per game, 1.62
#5 -- free-throw percentage, 81.2
#7 -- points per game, 15.6
#6 -- blocked shots per game, 1.12
#7 -- three-point field goal percentage, 43.5
#9 -- three-pointers made per game, 1.54
#10 -- field-goal percentage, 51.1
#1 -- assist/turnover ratio, 2.00
#7 -- assists per game, 3.08
#9 -- assists per game, 2.96
Last Time vs. BYU
BYU 65, Air Force 33
Feb. 3, 2003, Provo, Utah
Travis Hansen scored 16 points to lead Brigham Young to a 65-33 victory over Air Force Monday night.
BYU (15-5, 4-1) shot 46 percent while Air Force (10-9, 1-5) shot 22 percent.
Rafael Araujo scored nine points and had 12 rebounds for BYU, which out-rebounded the Falcons 55-21. Tim Keller and Antoine Hood led Air Force with nine points each.
Leading 7-6, BYU went on a 23-4 run in the final 11 minutes of the first half to lead 30-10. The 10 points scored by Air Force was a Marriott Center record and tied the AFA school record for fewest points scored in a half.
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 on Jan. 25. It was the first double-double for any Falcon this season.
Senior Tom Bellairs recorded the second for Air Force and 13th of his career, which is the third-most by any active MWC player.
Tim Keller is among the best shooters in the country, as evidenced by the latest NCAA statistics (Feb. 25). Keller is No. 3 in the nation in three-point percentage (47.7 percent). He is seventh on the school's career list for three-pointers made with 106.
Home Sweet Home...
Air Force is 8-2 at home which is the best home record since the 1987-88 campaign, when the Falcons began 9-1.
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.
Shooting Coming Around, but so is Opponents
Air Force's shooting has improved the last four games, as the Falcons have hit 56.9 percent (82-144) from the field. AFA has also improved from long distance, hitting 45.7 percent (32-70) of its three-pointers.
The Falcons have shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of their last four games, while the team's 54.8 percent mark against UNLV is the best in a conference road game this season and second-best overall away from home.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, their defense recently has allowed opponents to light it up. Air Force opponents have hit 54.4 percent (136-250) from the field and 55.7 percent from three-point range (44-79) over the last five games.
Shooting Records Go Down
Air Force set a pair of new school shooting records against Colorado State Feb. 15. The Falcons made 13-of-15 shots in the first half, the best percentage (86.7) for one half in school history, bettering the 82.4 percent (14-17) against Montana State on Nov. 30, 2001. Air Force finished the game shooting 71.9 percent (23-32) from the field, the best percentage ever for a conference game. The previous record was 63 percent (29-46) vs. Hawaii (WAC) on Jan. 26, 1985.