Mountain West showdown as UNLV tries to ground Air Force
Colorado Springs, CO (Sports Network) – Fresh off a marathon victory, the UNLV
Rebels will attempt to upset the 20th-ranked Air Force Falcons in a Mountain
West Conference affair.
UNLV is playing tremendous basketball right now, as the team has run off 10
consecutive victories to improve to 14-2 overall. On Wednesday, the Rebels
showed a great deal of mental toughness in a league-opening victory over
Utah in double-overtime. The 97-94 triumph featured 15 ties and 14 lead
changes. As successful as UNLV has been, Air Force has been even better.
The Falcons are 14-1 overall to tie the best start in school history, and
they are also riding a 10-game winning streak. Their lone loss came against
Duke, one of the nation’s top teams. Air Force is coming off an 81-75
victory over Colorado State to open conference play, and it carries a 6-0
home record into this afternoon’s matchup.
UNLV holds a 17-6 advantage in the all-time series with Air Force, but the
Falcons won both meetings a year ago.
It is rare for a team to have three players exceed 20 points in one game,
especially against a league opponent, but that is exactly what happened for
UNLV in the win over Utah earlier this week. Kevin Kruger led the charge with
25 points on the strength of eight three-pointers, and he dished out eight
assists as well. Wendell White had a sensational all-around game with 24
points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and Wink Adams pitched in with 23 points
on 5-of-8 efficiency from long range. The Rebels only turned the ball over six
times in 50 minutes of action, perhaps the most obvious reason the club was
able to score the victory. White holds a narrow lead in regard to season
scoring with his 14.8 ppg, as Adams (14.6 ppg) and Kruger (14.4 ppg) are both
close behind. UNLV has forced 275 turnovers in 16 outings, 102 more than it has
committed. The Rebels are posting 78.2 ppg while limiting teams to 66.3 ppg.
The Falcons are posting 75.9 ppg on 53.8 percent shooting from the floor,
including 46.4 percent from three-point range. Defensively, they are limiting
foes to 54.8 ppg on 41.4 percent efficiency from the field, including 32.5
percent accuracy from behind the arc. All five starters are averaging double
figures in scoring, and Dan Nwaelele leads the balanced attack with 14.9 ppg on
62.4 percent shooting from the field, including 56.3 percent from long range.
Jacob Burtschi, another efficient shooter, adds 14.5 ppg to the mix. Nwaelele
posted 22 points in the win over Colorado State earlier this week, while
Burtschi and Tim Anderson pitched in 17 points apiece. The Falcons finished
with 20 assists against seven turnovers and knocked down 15-of-27 three-