GAME NOTES: After sitting idle for nearly a week, the Air Force Falcons get back to the business of basketball on Tuesday night as they host the Wyoming Cowboys in a Mountain West Conference battle at Clune Arena.
Last Wednesday, the Falcons paid a visit to Boise State and came up short in a 77-65 final, which means the Academy has now fallen in two straight and four of the last five games. With the recent run of setbacks, Air Force is now tied with the Broncos for fifth place in the MWC standings with a record of 6-6.
Trailing those two in the standings is Wyoming, which enters the week with a mark of 4-9 following a home loss to UNLV on Saturday, 65-42. Since opening up the 2012-13 campaign with so much promise on a 13-game win streak, the Pokes have hit the wall with just five victories.
The Falcons won the first meeting of the season late last month with a 57-48 victory on the road in Laramie, but still the Cowboys own a commanding 73-32 advantage in the all-time series.
The Cowboys got a dose of their own medicine on Saturday when they were allowed to register just five field goals in the first half against visiting UNLV, eventually shooting a paltry 28.8 percent from the floor and 4-of-18 behind the 3-point line in the losing cause. Granted, Wyoming did force the visitors into 18 turnovers, but the Runnin' Rebels turned the tables on the hosts with a massive 47-25 rebounding edge. Derek Cooke Jr. was the only player in double figures for the Pokes with 15 points, adding nine rebounds as Wyoming again played without Leonard Washington.
With Luke Martinez (14.5 ppg) being handed a double-whammy with both an injury and suspension last month, Washington is listed as the Wyoming's top scorer and rebounder with 13.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per contest, but the prospect of him playing is still up in the air due to an injury. Derrious Gilmore is the only other player listed in double figures for the Cowboys with his 12.4 ppg, while also leading the group with 68 assists, but it is generally the defense for the squad that keeps them competitive as they hold the competition to only 56.5 ppg.
It doesn't happen very often, but the Falcons actually held a 28-27 rebounding edge over Boise State last week, yet that effort still left the visitors short in the double-digit decision in Idaho. Todd Fletcher led the way on offense for Air Force with 14 points, shooting 4-of-5 behind the 3-point line, but the rest of the team combined to shoot only 5-of-20 out on the perimeter. Taylor Broekhuis and Michael Lyons chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
In conference play, Lyons leads the way with his 18.4 ppg, shooting close to 50 percent from the floor as he plays more than 34 minutes per outing for the Falcons. Mike Fitzgerald (12.4 ppg) and Fletcher (10.3 ppg) are also reliable sources for point production, as the team generates 68.2 ppg. However, for a program that prided itself on a suffocating defense not that long ago, giving up 70.2 ppg doesn't leave much room for error these days.
With too many crucial parts missing these days, the Cowboys are lucky just to stay within single digits of the competition. Chances are that won't happen here on the road for Wyoming though.
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