Dec. 4, 2001
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Air Force vs. Arkansas State
Date: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 7:05 p.m.
Site: Clune Arena (6,002), USAFA, CO
Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs
Records: Air Force is 3-3. Arkansas State is 6-1.
Coaches: Air Force is coached by Joe Scott (Princeton, 1987), who is in his second season with the Falcons. He has an 11-24 overall record at Air Force. Scott came to AFA from his alma mater, Princeton, where he was an assistant coach from 1993-2000.
Arkansas State is coached by Dickey Nutt (Oklahoma State, 1982), who is in his seventh season with the Indians. He has a record of 95-83 at Arkansas State. Durham previously was the top assistant coach at Arkansas State from 1987-95.
Series: The series is tied at 1-1. The teams have not played since Dec. 9, 1968. Air Force won that game, 76-58. The Indians won the first meeting, on Dec. 30, 1964, 73-67.
Scouting Arkansas State
Arkansas State is 6-1 this season after defeating Southern Mississippi, 85-61, at home last Friday night.
The Indians won thier first five games of the 2001-02 campaign, and did not score less than 90 points in any of those games. In fact, ASU scored 107 and 109 points in victories over Central Methodist College and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, respectively. Mississippi Valley State handed the Indians their only loss, 79-77, on Nov. 28.
Seven letterwinners and three starters return from last year's 17-13 team that finished second in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division. Head coach Dickey Nutt is in his seventh season, and has a career record of 95-83.
Leading the way for ASU this season is senior guard Nick Rivers, who is averaging 21.7 points per game. He is shooting 51% from the field and 40.7% from three-point land, and has made 22 three-pointers this year. Rivers was the Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year last season.
Seven-foot senior Jason Jennings, an all-Sun Belt selection and the conference's leader in blocked shots, is scoring 14.7 points per game and already has 24 blocks this season.
After playing Arkansas State on Dec. 5, Air Force hosts Oakland University on Saturday, Dec. 8, in Clune Arena at 2 p.m.
Oakland Univ., located in Rochester, Mich., is 3-4 this season. The Grizzlies play Detroit on Dec. 6 before travelling to Colorado Springs.
OU is a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, finishing fifth in the conference standings last season. Sophomore guard Mike Helms leads the Grizzlies in scoring, averaging 17.9 points per game, and senior forward Brad Buddenborg hauls down a team-high 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Gerlach Still Among MWC Leaders
After six games this season, sophomore Joel Gerlach is among the league leaders in several categories. He is second in field goal percentage (69.0%), seventh in scoring average (14.7), tied for second in 3-point shooting (57.1%), and fifth in free throw percentage (88.0%).
Other Falcons among the MWC leaders are junior Vernard Jenkins, who is tied for first with 11 steals, and senior Lamoni Yazzie, who is fifth in the conference with 2.33 three-pointers made per game.
Falcons Shooting Well
Air Force leads the Mountain West Conference in field goal percentage, three-point shooting percentage and three-pointers made. The Falcons are shooting 51.3% (120-234) from the field, 45.5 percent (51-112) from behind the arc, and are averaging 8.5 three-pointers made per game. Unfortunately, AFA can't capitalize on its free throw shooting as well, making just 68.9% (62-90) from the line, fourth-best in the conference.
Still Liking Downtown Area
Once again this season, the Falcons are relying heavily on the 3-point shot. They lead the Mountain West Conference by making 8.5 three-pointers per contest. So far this year, 51 of the team's 120 field goals have been from beyond the arc, representing 42.5 percent. Last year, 45% of Air Force's field goals were three-pointers (245-of-544).
Air Force's 31 attempts from beyond the arc against Fresno State were a season-high and the most since attempting 32 against San Diego State on Feb. 19, 2001.
The Falcons travel to Denver to face the University of Denver for the second time this season on Wednesday, Dec. 12. The Falcons defeated DU, 52-44, earlier this season at Clune Arena.
2001-02 Schedule Notes
Air Force plays its second all-Division I schedule this season. Last year was the first all-Division I schedule for the Falcons en route to an 8-21 record and the most Division I victories in one season since the 1989-90 campaign.
AFA will showcase its program on national television this season with a "Big Monday" appearance against New Mexico in Albuquerque on Jan. 14. Game time is 10 p.m. MST.
Air Force has already played two top 25 teams this year, No. 3 Missouri at the Guardians Classic, and No. 24 Fresno State in the McCaffrey Classic.
In all, the Falcons play six teams that played in the post-season last year, including three NCAA teams and three NIT teams.
This season marks the 46th of varsity basketball for Air Force. This is Air Force's third season in the Mountain West Conference. AFA was a member of the Western Athletic Conference for 19 years before joining the MWC in 1999.
Prep School Boosts Roster
Four players from the USAFA Prep School team that won 23 games last season are on this year's Air Force roster. Newcomers Tim Keller (Austin, TX), Dan Stock (Cheyenne, WY), Eric Lang (Washington, PA) and Marc Holum (Hellertown, PA) helped the prep school win more games than any other team in school history. Two true freshmen are on the roster this season, post players David Peterson (Mountain Home, ID) and Jarrett Hess (Seminole, FL).
Bellairs Reaches Milestone
Junior Tom Bellairs became the 54th player in the history of Air Force basketball to score 500 points in his career. He reached the milestone earlier this season against Navy. He has 520 career points and 458 rebounds. With 42 more rebounds, he will become just the 12th player in school history with 500 points and 500 rebounds in a career. Bellairs leads all current Falcons in career points and rebounds.
The McCaffrey Classic was the second tournament for Air Force this season. The Falcons lost in the second round of the Guardians Classic to No. 3-ranked Missouri, 86-58, on Nov. 14 in Columbia, MO. Air Force defeated Yale, 68-62, in the first round of the Guardians Classic. Missouri went on to capture the tournament title, defeating Iowa, 78-77.
Air Force is 23-64 all-time in tournament play. The Falcons have advanced to four consecutive tournament finals, spanning the last two years.
Air Force has one tournament title, the 1972 Evansville Invitational, taken second nine times, third nine times and fourth 19 times in school history.
Air Force went 1-1 last weekend at the McCaffrey Classic in Fresno, Calif. The Falcons defeated Montana State in the first round, 70-65, then lost to host Fresno State in the final, 68-52.
vs. Montana State
Sophomore A.J. Kuhle led a hot shooting Air Force basketball team with a career-high 16 points Friday as the Falcons advanced to the title game of the McCaffrey Classic with a 70-65 victory over Montana State in Fresno, Calif.
The Falcons (3-2) came out of the gate on fire, making 14 of their 17 shots from the field, setting a
school record for the best shooting percentage in
one half at 82.4 percent. Air Force made 14 of its
first 15 field goal attempts, including its first eight three-pointers, and finished the game shooting 71.4% (25-35).
Air Force jumped out to a 32-15 lead in the first 15 minutes of the game, sparked by three 3-pointers from Kuhle, who finished the game 6-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from three-point territory. Montana State made a little run at the end of the half and Air Force took a 38-26 halftime lead to the locker room.
AFA's hot shooting continued in the second half, as the Falcons made four of its first five shots, but the Bobcats (1-3) cut the lead to 44-37 with 15:46 remaining in the game. The Falcons built the lead back up to 12 with a layup by junior Vernard Jenkins and a three-pointer by Kuhle, who played 27 minutes coming off the bench.
Another spark off the bench for Air Force was freshman David Peterson, who filled in when starting center Tom Bellairs picked up his fourth foul midway through the second half. Peterson responded with two field goals and two assists.
Air Force kept the lead in double figures until the final three minutes of the game, when the Bobcats made a 10-2 run, with all of MSU's 10 points scored by Aaron Rich. Rich's jumper with 1:24 left made the score 67-61, but Air Force senior Lamoni Yazzie sealed the game by hitting 3-of-4 free throws in the final 26 seconds.
Five Falcons scored in double figures, as Yazzie and sophomore Joel Gerlach and Robert Todd each had 11 points. Bellairs chipped in with 10 points.
vs. Fresno State
The Falcons' hot shooting did not carry over to Saturday's game against No. 24 Fresno State, as Air Force missed its first 12 field goal attempts in Fresno State's 68-52 win in the title game of the McCaffrey Classic.
Joel Gerlach made a three-pointer with 7:55 left in the first half for AFA's first made shot from the field and halted a 13-0 run by Fresno State. The Bulldogs responded with an 11-0 spurt that put them ahead 28-8 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
Hiram Fuller scored 14 points while filling in for Melvin Ely, and Chris Jefferies had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs (6-1).
Fuller, who started both games in Ely's spot, was a solid inside presence, while Mustafa Al-Sayyad added 13 points and 11 rebounds inside. Jefferies, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds Friday night against UC Riverside, was named tournament MVP.
Senior Lamoni Yazzie scored 18 points on a career-high six 3-pointers, five of which came in succession in the second half. Gerlach, who was selected to the all-tournament team, added 13 points and six rebounds for Air Force.
Jenkins Climbing The Assist List
Junior guard Vernard Jenkins moved into the top 10 on the school's all-time assist list with three assists against Fresno State. He now has 215 in his career, passing Mike Hammond (1985-88), who finished his career with 214.
Career Assist Leaders at Air Force
1. Jeff Bowling, 1987, 89-90 447
2. Bob Djokovich, 1975-78 427
3. Todd Beer, 1983-86 355
4. Erwin Washington, 1980-83 276
5. Raymond Dudley, 1987-90 275
6. Otis Jones, 1992-95 263
7. Greg Lewis, 1979-82 247
8. Jarmica Reese, 1995-98 221
9. Reggie Minton, 1993-96 220
10. Vernard Jenkins, 1999-present 215
Shooting Down Records
The Falcons set a new school record for the best shooting percentage in one half against Montana State. Air Force made 82.4% (14-17) of its shots in the first half, including 14 of its first 15 field goals attempts. The previous record was 78.9% (15-19) in the secnd 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.