Air Force Hoops Update- 01/05/2013

It's been an interesting holiday season for Air Force and Santa Claus did not exactly hit the right chimney for the Falcons. The out-of-conference scheduling for Air Force at the end of the year was combination of finding teams good caliber teams to play and fitting it into their overall academic and basketball schedule.

Air Force played on the 8th of December winning at home over Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65-49 but then took two weeks off as our cadet athletes prepared for and completed semester finals.

The Falcons began their road trip before Christmas heading out to University of California-Riverside for a game on the 22nd of December. The rust was evident as Air Force could not extend a lead over UC-R (now 4-10) and went into the locker room with a two point lead. But Mike Lyons found his shot in the second half and led two other Falcons in double figures with 22 points and Air Force walked away with the 61-53 win.

The schedule did not get any easier as the team separated into different ways as players and coaches ran home for a quick Christmas with family and friends then met back up in Florida, going coast to coast, to play the now No. 9 Gators at the Orange Bowl Classic at a neutral site in Sunrise, Fla. For 24 minutes the Falcons battled the ranked Gators and found themselves behind by one point at the 16:35 remaining mark, and the Gator fans in the stands were giving that classic movie line "who are these guys?". But from that point on the physical play just wore the Falcons down with the final score Air Force 61 – Florida 78.

The trip did not end there although the Falcons wished it had. Air Force went up the coast to face the Richmond Spiders and former Air Force head coach Chris Mooney. Air Force may shoot the three point shot well at times, but the Spiders were lights out shooting 61% from the arc and making 16 of 26 3-point shots. The teams played close for the first 8 minutes of the game but the Falcons could not match the intensity or the shooting percentage of Richmond, succumbing to the Spiders in a lopsided 91-68 point loss. Mike Lyons once again led all scorers with 19 points.

Air Force (8-4) comes home to the Academy after the break and essentially at the end of out-of-conference portion of their schedule (although they do play one game versus the University of New Orleans during the second week of MWC action). The Falcons have one week to do some soul searching and tweaking of their game play prior to opening up MWC conference play versus newcomer Nevada (9-5) on the 9th of January at Clune Arena. They face a Nevada team that finished 28-7 and went to the NIT in the 2011-2012 season. While they lost several from last year's team to include their third and fourth leading scorers, they have retooled have had modest success in the early part of this season. They are led by senior guard Malik Story (6-5, 215, 16.8 ppg) and junior guard Deonte Burton (6-1, 190, 15.8 ppg) in more of slasher roles as the team as a whole on shoots 30 percent from the 3-point arc. Their front court is led by a talented group of 6-8 to 6-10 players that are aggressive on the boards.

The Falcons need to re-find their chemistry that was evident in earlier play but has been missing consistently following the long break. MWC is going to be very tough this season with six teams have two or fewer losses, three teams ranked in the top 25, two more getting votes and Wyoming being one of only four unbeaten teams left in the NCAA.

Go Falcons, Beat Nevada

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