Air Force will take a once-in-decade shot at in-state rival Colorado State on Tuesday.
With a victory over the Rams, the Falcons’ men’s basketball and football teams would finish a sweep for the school year. That hasn’t been done since 2007-08.
“That’s pretty good for in-state rivalries and recruiting, although we don’t recruit a lot of the same player – it’s different pools of players we pull from,” Air Force basketball coach Dave Pilipovich said. “But it’d be great. Football beat them, and we have beat them. That would be a neat thing to pump your chest out a little bit.”
Air Force’s 76-71 basketball victory at Colorado State on Jan. 17 snapped a 12-game losing streak against the Rams and marked the first Falcons victory in Fort Collins since a 61-59 victory there in 2008.
That 2008 season also saw Air Force knock off the Rams 75-59 at Clune Arena, which came a few months after the Falcons toppled the Mountain West foe 45-21 in football at Falcon Stadium.
That 3-0 sweep hasn’t happened since, though the football team has done its part in winning 8 of 10. The football team beat Colorado State 45-28 on Oct. 28 to hand the Rams their first defeat in their new $220 million stadium.
To finish the sweep, Pilipovich said Air Force (8-13, 2-7 Mountain West) needs to get off to a fast start and be relentless on the glass in the 8 p.m. game on Tuesday night at Clune Arena against a Rams team that will be without coach Larry Eustachy after he was placed on administrative leave on Saturday as the school investigates his conduct.
Colorado State (10-15, 3-9) has lost six in a row, but Pilipovich knows he’ll see a team fully prepared, motivated and capable of the same things that regularly defined a series that the Rams led 17-2 from 2009 through January’s meeting.
“I thought their guys were energized,” Pilipovich said of Colorado State’s performance in a 76-67 loss Saturday to now-No. 23 Nevada. “I thought they made shots early and even late. They rebounded the ball well. … I didn’t see much of a difference. I saw an energized team out there.”
No major changes coming from Air Force
Despite a 39.6 shooting percentage in Mountain West games, Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said he still wants an attacking, up-tempo style that can lead to high-scoring games as opposed to milking the clock and trying to win defensive battles.
“I’d like to see us score more in the 70s, to be honest,” he said. “It’s hard to win a game with 48, 49, 50, 51 points. You look at the games we’ve scored well, they’ve been right there where we want them.”
He makes a good point, as Air Force is 2-3 in conference play when scoring at least 64 points. It has been outscored by an average of two points in those games. When it fails to crack 60 points, the Falcons are 0-4 and have lost by an average of 24 points.
The hope is that the Falcons will simply find a consistent shooting touch, which they have shown only in short stretches this season.
Another thing Pilipovich doesn’t want to see change is the intensity that has led to three technical foul calls on the Falcons in the past two games. Lavelle Scottie and Trevor Lyons drew the calls on Saturday at San Diego State, while Pilipovich was called for on in the previous game against Boise State.
“Sometimes you’ve got to stick up for your guys, your family, your kids; and I’d do that again,” he said. “I thought it was a quick whistle. I didn’t curse or do anything. I just said, ‘Wow, that’s not a foul.’
“I like a little fire.”