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Air Force men are no match for UNLV in 93-67 blowout loss at home

March 1, 2014 Updated: March 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm
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photo - Air Force forward Justin Hammonds goes up for a shot past University of Nevada Las Vegas forward Khem Birch during Air Force's 93-67 loss to UNLV Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Clune Arena. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Air Force forward Justin Hammonds goes up for a shot past University of Nevada Las Vegas forward Khem Birch during Air Force's 93-67 loss to UNLV Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Clune Arena. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

Air Force has generally been able to pinpoint one or two deficiencies that have led to losses this season - shooting, rebounding, turnovers . it was always something.

On Saturday, the Falcons' performance was irrelevant.

UNLV dominated inside, outside, on the glass and left Air Force with no chance in a 93-67 victory at Clune Arena.

It was the most points the Falcons had surrendered in more than 14 years.

"They hit us early and we were paralyzed," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said.

UNLV outscored the Falcons 33-16 in the first half in the paint and on second-chance points, establishing its advantages around the basket. As if that wasn't enough, the Runnin' Rebels then launched an onslaught from the outside - hitting 12-of-18 3-pointers.

UNLV also outrebounded the Falcons 45-25.

"Our minds were freed up," said UNLV coach Dave Rice, whose team shot 61.8 percent. "We just had so much confidence."

UNLV (19-10, 10-6 Mountain West) had double-digit scoring performances from seven players, including the entire starting five. Forward Khem Birch led the way with 15 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Air Force had 14 points from Tre' Coggins and 11 apiece from Max Yon and Zach Kocur.

Though the Falcons (11-16, 5-11) scored more than 60 points for the first time since Jan. 18, they shot just 35.9 percent and never developed a rhythm as UNLV played a zone defense for the entire game.

"We're lacking team chemistry, for sure," said Kamryn Williams, who had 10 points and seven rebounds for Air Force.

The Falcons won the first meeting 75-68 in Las Vegas, but the seasons are headed in different directions for these teams. UNLV, which broke in nine new players this year, has averaged 87 points in its past three games. Air Force hasn't even held a lead in two straight home games.

"Our energy and enthusiasm, I'm at a loss for it," Pilipovich said. "Our guys said their legs are dead. They said they're just dead. I don't know why. We've taken time off, but I don't know. The juniors came in this week and told us about the hard academic weeks they've had. We just had no life. The energy, it's just disappointing.

"I think our immaturity is coming out right now when we hit a rough patch."

The road gets no easier for Air Force, as it goes to No. 25 New Mexico on Wednesday before closing the regular season against Boise State next Saturday.

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