March 1, 2002
Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader
Game 27: Air Force vs. San Diego State
Date: Saturday, March 2, 6:35 p.m. (PST)
Site: Cox Arena (12,414), San Diego, Calif.
Television: None in Colorado Springs
Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs
Records: Air Force is 9-17 overall and 3-10 in the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State is 17-11 overall and 6-7 in the MWC.
Coaches: Air Force is coached by Joe Scott (Princeton, 1987), who is in his second season with the Falcons. He has a 17-38 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 36-48 at San Diego State.
Series: San Diego State leads the overall series, 32-13. The Falcons defeated San Diego State, 67-54, earlier this season at Clune Arena. The Aztecs swept a pair of games from Air Force last season.
Scouting San Diego State
San Diego State is 17-11 overall and 6-7 in the Mountain West Conference after defeating New Mexico, 84-71, at home Thursday night.
Al Faux led San Diego State with a career-high 26 points against New Mexico. Randy Holcomb added 19 points and seven rebounds, while Chris Walton chipped in with eight points and nine boards. SDSU overcame an eight-point halftime deficit and outscored the Lobos 52-31 in the second half.
Holcomb leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Tony Bland is scoring at a 16.6 clip per game and leads the team with 101 assists.
San Diego State is tied with New Mexico for fifth place in the MWC standings. The Aztecs have won four of their last six games since losing to Air Force, 67-54, on Feb. 4. Three of their seven losses in conference play have come in overtime, including both games against UNLV.
Air Force defeated San Diego State, 81-77 in triple overtime in San Diego, on Jan. 20, 2000, marking the last conference road win by the Falcons.
Last Time Out
Lou Kelly scored 19 points, including two free throws that put UNLV up for good, as the Runnin' Rebels beat Air Force 73-66 on Thursday.
Kelly's free throws broke a 64-64 tie with 1:45 remaining, and UNLV tallied the next six points, including two more Kelly free throws, to secure a 72-64 lead with 15 seconds left.
Kelly made 3 of 5 3-pointers and had five assists, and Jevon Banks added 14 for the Rebels (17-9, 8-5 Mountain West), who outscored Air Force 42-26 in the paint for their third straight win.
UNLV jumped to an early lead behind 4-for-8 3-point shooting in the first half. The Rebels led 41-29 at halftime and were up by as many as 16 in the second half.
The Falcons (9-17, 3-10), who've lost their last five games, trailed 58-46 midway through the second half. But Tom Bellairs scored five of his 11 points in a game-tying 18-6 Air Force run that knotted it at 64-64.
Joel Gerlach scored 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting to lead the Falcons, who were outrebounded 31-24.
Notes from the UNLV Game
-- Air Force has lost 19 consecutive Mountain West Conference road games
-- Air Force is in the midst of its first five-game losing streak this season
-- It was the sixth consecutive game sophomore A.J. Kuhle has played all 40 minutes
-- Kuhle is averaging 40.1 minutes per game in 13 conference games this season
-- UNLV's 41 points in the first half is the most given up by AFA in the first half this season
-- Vernard Jenkins tied a season-high with five assists
-- Air Force tied a season-high with 25 field goals made, while attempting a season-high 51 FG's
-- The starting lineup of Jenkins, Yazzie, Gerlach, Kuhle and Bellairs started for the 20th consecutive time and are 6-14 this season
-- UNLV tied a season-high by opponents with 26 made free throws
-- Tom Bellairs had a season-best four steals
-- UNLV's 26-12 advantage in made free throws ties the largest margin by an opponent this season (UT Pan-American, 16-2)
--Air Force shot below 50% from the field for the fourth consecutive game
-- AFA's 22.2% shooting from three-point range (4-18) is the third worst percentage this season
Bellairs Earns MWC Honors
Air Force junior center Tom Bellairs was the Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week after leading the Falcons to a 2-0 record earlier this season. This is Bellairs' first player of the week honor of his career.
Bellairs, from Denver, Colo. (Mullen HS) averaged 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds last week. He shot 62.5 percent from the field (10-of-16) and dished out four assists per game.
In the 67-54 victory vs. San Diego State, Bellairs
scored 14 points off 4-of-5 (80 percent) shooting,
grabbed eight rebounds and had four assists. He also played solid defense, holding the Aztecs Randy Holcomb, the league's leading scorer at 17.7 points
per game, to a season-low six points. Bellairs scored
a team-high 13 points, hitting 6-of-11 from the field,
while pulling down nine boards and handing out four
assists in the 47-44 win vs. New Mexico.
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 second-best percentage in one game in Division I this season.
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 clip.
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%.
Jenkins Climbing Career Lists
Junior guard Vernard Jenkins moved into a tie for the No. 6 spot on the school's all-time assist list with five assists against UNLV. Currently, Jenkins has 263 assists in his career. His five assists against the Rebels tied a season-high.
Jenkins is also No. 4 on the school's list for career steals. He posted a career-high six thefts against Wyoming earlier this season and has 118 in his career.
Career Assist Leaders at Air Force
# Name, Years Assists
1. Jeff Bowling, 1987, 89-90 447
5. Raymond Dudley, 1987-90 275
6. Vernard Jenkins, 2000-present 263
Otis Jones, 1992-95 263
8. Greg Lewis, 1979-82 247
9. Jarmica Reese, 1995-98 221
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, 2000-present 118
Air Force has now made a 3-point shot in 295 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.
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 723 career points and 572 rebounds. Bellairs is tied for 36th on the school's career scoring list and seventh 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.
Career Rebounding Leaders at Air Force
# Name, Years Rebounds
1. Reggie Jones, 1977-81 776
2. Cliff Parsons, 1966-69 720
3. Randy Gricius, 1975-79 689
6. Tom Schneeberger, 1974-98 599
7. Tom Bellairs, 2000-present 572
8. Mike Lockwood, 1986-89 552
9. Rick Simmons, 1979-83 545
10. Mike Freeman, 1995-98 542
Air Force returns to Las Vegas for the MWC Tournament, March 7-9, at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Falcons lost to BYU, 69-54, in the first round of the 2001 MWC Tournament.
Field Goal Pct. Among The Best
Through 26 games this season, Air Force's field goal percentage of 46.5 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. 2001-02 498-1072 46.5
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
After losing by seven to UNLV on Thursday night, Air Force is 6-10 in games decided by eight points or less this season.
At one point this season, the Falcons were 5-1 in that category, but their last nine losses have been by six (UT-Pan American), three (New Mexico), six (Utah), three (CSU), seven (Wyoming), eight (Utah), three (Wyoming), eight (CSU) and seven (UNLV) points. The three-point victory over New Mexico on Feb. 4 is the last victory decided by eight points or less.
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.
-- 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 in school history, Air Force played a quadruple overtime game. The Falcons fell to Wyoming, 83-76, on Jan. 28. The game was tied at 52 at the end of regulation.
-- The Falcons have won four games away from Clune Arena in one season for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign. Two of the wins in '89-90 came 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 has won nine Division I games in one season for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign. The Falcons won a school-record 10 games against Division I opponents that season.
60 Points is the Key
UNLV handed Air Force its second loss of the season when the Falcons score 60 points or more. Air Force is 6-2 when it reaches the 60-point plateau, and 3-15 when it scores less than 60.
The three victories with a point total under 60 are the 57-56 win over Northern Arizona, the 52-44 triumph over Denver and the 47-44 win over New Mexico.
The most points Air Force has given up in any victory this season is 65, to Montana State at the McCaffrey Classic on Nov. 30.
Road Woes Continue
UNLV handed Air Force its 19th consecutive Mountain West Conference road defeat, dating back to Jan. 20, 2000, when the Falcons defeated San Diego State, 81-77 in triple overtime.
That victory snapped a 39-game conference road losing streak, which dated back to Jan. 14, 1995, a 72-62 win at Fresno State.
Enjoying the Extra Time?
Air Force has played in four overtime games this season, going 1-3. In fact, three of the Falcons' overtime games came in a span of six games, including a quadruple-overtime affair against Wyoming, the longest game in the history of the program.
The four overtime games are the most in one season in school history. Air Force played three overtime games in 1981-82, 1984-85 and 1995-96.
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.
No Longer Leading the MWC
Air Force has hit just four three-pointers in each of its last two games, and has relinquished the MWC lead in treys made per game to Utah. The Falcons are averaging 7.42 made per game, while the Utes make 7.6 per game. Air Force led the MWC in made three-pointers last season with 8.45 per game.
On The Road, Again?
Counting next week's conference tournament, Air Force will have been on the road for 16 of 24 days.
Kuhle and Collected
Sophomore A.J. Kuhle has been Air Force's most consistent player in MWC games this season. He is avearging 40.1 minutes per game and has played all 40 minutes in AFA's last six games. A.J. has scored in double figues in nine of the team's 13 MWC contests.
Counting just conference games, Kuhle leads the team in steals (23), is second in rebounding (42), field-goal percentage (36.4%) and free-throw percentage (87.0%) and third in scoring (10 6 ppg).
Gerlach Having Trey Trouble
Sophomore Joel Gerlach was in the top three in the conference for 3-point shooting percentage until a current 0-17 slump has dropped him to 14th.
Gerlach, who made seven of his first 10 treys of the season, has not made a three-point shot since going 4-of-5 in the quadruple-overtime game at Wyoming on Jan. 28.
After the Wyoming game, he was making three-pointers at a 51.0% clip, now his percentage is at 38.2%.
Last Time Against San Diego State
Air Force 67, San Diego State 54
Jan. 10, 2002 - USAFA, CO
Senior Lamoni Yazzie scored a game-high 18 points as Air Force won its second conference game of the season Monday, defeating San Diego State, 67-54, at Clune Arena. Air Force matches its win total from a year ago with eight, which also ties the school record for most Division I victories in one season.
The Falcons came out of the gate fast against SDSU, scoring the first nine points of the contest, six of them on a pair of three-pointers from Yazzie. San Diego State made a 15-4 run of its own to take a 15-13 lead. Air Force then rattled off eight straight points, five coming on a three-pointer and a layup from freshman Marc Holum, who made his first appearance of the season. That run gave AFA a 21-15 advantage and the Falcons never trailed again.
Yazzie, who leads the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game, scored eight points in a row after San Diego State had climbed back to trail only 45-39. His first basket came on a drive along the right baseline. Yazzie was fouled on the layup and put in the free throw for a three-point play.
Yazzie then drilled a 3-pointer and finished the flurry with a layup after outwrestling a San Diego State player for a long pass against a full-court press.
Junior Tom Bellairs racked up 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a steal and only one turnover in 31 minutes. He also played great defense, allowing SDSU's Randy Holcomb, who entered the game averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game, a season-low six points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes. Mike Mackell took up some of the slack with team-highs of 17 points and nine rebounds for the Aztecs.