Dec. 9, 2002
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Date: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 7:05 p.m. MST
Site: Clune Arena (6,002), USAFA, Colo.
Radio: KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs
Records: Air Force is 4-2, Belmont is 2-2.
Recent Results: Air Force defeated Georgia Southern, 70-56, last Sunday in Statesboro, Ga. Belmont beat Navy, 68-61, at home on Dec. 2.
Coaches: Air Force is coached by Joe Scott (Princeton, 1987), who is in his third season with the Falcons. He has a 21-42 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.
Belmont is coached by Rick Byrd (Tennessee, 1976), who is in his 17th season with the Bruins. He has a 331-183 record at Belmont, and a career record of 423-238 in 21-plus seasons. Price coached for three seasons at Lincoln Memorial University, and two years at Maryville College.
Series: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Belmont is 2-2 this season after defeating Navy, 68-61, on Dec. 2. The Bruins opened the season in the Guardians Classic with a 76-48 loss to Notre Dame. An 83-77 overtime victory over Brown the following day preceded an 87-71 loss at Georgia on Nov. 23.
Adam Mark leads the team in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game. He had a team-high 17 points and added eight rebounds against Navy. Adam Sonn follows with a 13.3-point per game average after scoring 15 points against the Midshipmen. Sonn also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds against Navy and leads the team in rebounding, averaging 12.8 boards per contest. He also has has a team-high 18 assists.
Belmont is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, the same conference as Stetson University, who Air Force defeated 72-43 earlier this season. The Bruins finished eighth in the conference standings a year ago and lost in the first round of the conference tournament.
Last Time Out
Air Force 70, Georgia Southern 56
Dec. 8, 2002 at Statesboro, Ga.
A.J. Kuhle led a balanced scoring attack with a career-high 23 points, including 15 in the second half as Air Force defeated Georgia Southern, 70-56, Sunday afternoon. Tim Keller added 17 points for Air Force, which improves to 4-2 this season.
Kuhle made eight-of-11 shots from the field, including four-of-six from three-point range, and added three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Keller had three assists and two steals and the Falcons recorded 20 assists for the second consecutive game, and turned the ball over just 10 times.
Air Force, which ran its offense to perfection in the first 29 minutes of the game, withstood a 14-0 run by Georgia Southern after Kuhle gave Air Force its biggest lead of the game, 57-33, with 11:26 remaining. The Falcons were held scoreless for 8:09 before Kuhle hit a three-pointer to give AFA a 60-47 advantage with just over three minutes remaining.
Georgia Southern cut the lead to nine on a three-pointer by Terry Williams with 1:14 to go, but Kuhle scored the next five points, three from the free throw line and a layup after rebounding his own missed free throw, to put the game away for the Falcons.
Tom Bellairs scored 12 points, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and dished out four assists, while Joel Gerlach had 11 points and three steals. Vernard Jenkins handed out a season-high seven assists.
Julius Jenkins led Georgia Southern (4-3) with 21 points. Frank Bennett added 12 for the Eagles, which outrebounded Air Force 31-17.
Air Force made 15 of their 21 field goals in the first half, including nine-of-13 from 3-point range. The Falcons used runs of 11-0 and 13-0 during the first half to take a commanding 41-25 lead at halftime. Keller had 13 of his points in the first half, including AFA's final eight of the stanza.
Air Force takes to the road for a game against Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., on Sunday, Dec. 22. Tip-off is 11 a.m. MST. The Falcons will be looking for some revenge after Oakland beat Air Force, 57-53, at Clune Arena last season.
The Falcons will then travel to El Paso, Texas for the Sierra Providence SunClassic. AFA battles Alabama Birmingham in the first round on Dec. 27, then will face either UTEP or Columbia on Dec. 28.
Notes from the Ga. Southern Game
-- Junior A.J. Kuhle scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field ... Also tied his career-high with four 3-pointers made (six attempts)
-- Senior Tom Bellairs posted season-highs with 12 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes of action
-- Senior Vernard Jenkins dished out a season-high seven assists to move into the No. 4 spot on the school's career list with 283
-- With his 11 points, junior Joel Gerlach surpassed the 600-point mark for his career and has scored in double figures in all six games this season
-- For the first time in Joe Scott's tenure at Air Force, the team is two games above the .500 mark
-- The victory gives Air Force two road wins this season, equalling the team's total of last season (excluding neutral site wins)
-- Air Force recorded 20 assists for the second consecutive game, the first time with 20+ assists in back-to-back games since Dec. 28 (23 vs. Denver) and Dec. 30, 1997 (21 vs. CU-Colorado Springs)
-- The Falcons shot 71.4 percent (15-21) from the field and 69.2 percent (9-13) from 3-point range in the first half, both bests for one half this season
-- AFA tied its season-high for points in one half with 41 in the first stanza ... The Falcons also scored 41 in the first half against Stetson
-- The team posted a season-high nine steals
Long Range Record
Air Force set a school-record with 18 three-pointers against UT-Pan American. The previous record was 16 made against Doane College on Nov. 22, 1997. The most treys made against a Division I team prior to the record-setting game was 15 against Stetson earlier this season.
Holding On To The Ball
The Falcons have committed just 17 turnovers in their last two games, victories over UT-Pan American (7) and Georgia Southern (10). It is the fewest by an Air Force team in a two-game stretch since Jan. 2 (10 vs. Dartmouth) and Jan. 6, 1999 (six vs. Denver).
Home Sweet Home
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.
Deuces Not So Wild
The Falcons' school-record 18 three-pointers against UT-Pan American accounted for all but five of their field goals made (23) in the game. In fact, 33 of the team's 40 attempted field goals were from behind the arc.
On Fire From 3-Point Land
Air Force has been red-hot from three-point range this season, making 46.9 percent (68-145) of its shots from beyond the line. The Falcons are averaging 11.3 three-pointers made per game, tops among Mountain West Conference teams. In fact, Air Force is making 2.5 more per game than the No. 2 team in the conference (San Diego State, 8.8).
Five Falcons are already in double figures in assists this season, led by Tom Bellairs' 17. Tim Keller has 16, followed by Vernard Jenkins and A.J. Kuhle with 15 apiece. Joel Gerlach has 10, and David Peterson needs one more to move into double figures.
Air Force has now made a 3-point shot in 303 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.
Big Monday Matchup
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.
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).
Early Conference Stats
A number of Air Force players are among Mountain West Conference statistical leaders as of Monday, Dec. 9.
#2 in three-pointers made per game, 3.67
#3 in steals per game, 1.67
#6 in three-point field goal percentage, 50.0
#9 in points per game, 15.7
#5 in three-point field goal percentage, 51.7
#5 in blocked shots per game, 1.33
#6 in three-pointers made per game, 2.50
#10 in points per game, 15.2
#10 in steals per game, 1.33
#3 in three-point field goal percentage, 54.5
#8 in defensive rebounds per game, 3.83
#10 in three-point field goal percentage, 43.5
Also, Air Force leads all MWC teams in:
Field Goal Percentage, 50.2 percent
3-Point FG Percentage, 46.9 percent
Scoring Defense, 53.3 points/game
Three-pointers, 11.3 made/game
Rebounds Allowed, 30.0 rebs/game
Assist / Turnover Ratio, 1.38 (90/65)
Bellairs Gets 600th Rebound
Tom Bellairs became the sixth player in school history to record 600 rebounds in a career after grabbing eight boards against Georgia Southern. He has 605 in 91 career games, and moved into the No. 5 spot on the school's all-time list.
Last season, Bellairs became the 12th player in program history to have 500 career points and 500 career rebounds. He is currently 32nd on the school's all-time scoring list with 793 career points. Bellairs posted the 11th and 12th double-doubles of his career during the 2001-02 campaign. He leads all current Falcons in career points and rebounds.
Multiple Winning Streaks
With its two two-game winning streaks this season, Air Force has produced more than one multiple-game winning streak in the same season for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign. That year, the Falcons had a three-game streak and a two-game streak. Since then, AFA has had no more than one multiple-game winning streak each season.
Jenkins Climbing Career Lists
Senior guard Vernard Jenkins moved into the top five on two career lists last week. He is now fourth on the school's all-time assist list with 276 career assists, and No. 4 on the school's list for career steals. He has 124 steals in his career.
Winning Record vs. Division I
The last time Air Force was 4-2 in its first six games against Division I teams was the 1988-89 campaign. Air Force beat Valparaiso, Idaho State, Portland and Davidson and lost to U.S. International and Xavier. The '88-89 season is the last non-losing season for the Falcons as they went 14-14.