Published: February 22, 2014
If a slump rages on for too long, at some point you have to question if what you're calling a slump is instead your reality.
Air Force reached that point Saturday.
Nevada started strong - scoring the first 10 points - and buried Air Force late in a 75-56 victory Saturday at Clune Arena.
The Falcons, who have lost three straight home games by double-digit margins, shot just 36.7 percent and haven't shot better than 42 percent in any of their six February games. After scoring at least 60 points in 16 of their first 17 games, the Falcons have failed to reach 60 points in eight straight games.
"They say your stats are who you are, right?" Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "But watching us and working with us, I don't buy it. I know we can make shots and I know we can shoot the ball better, but we've got to prove it."
Guard Deonte Burton scored 21 points and added five assists, two steals and just one turnover for the Wolf Pack, who snapped a five-game losing streak. With the senior leading the way, Nevada led by as many as 12 points in the first half.
Air Force (10-15, 4-10 Mountain West) closed that gap to four points late in the first half, but a Burton layup and a Cole Huff 3-pointer stretched it back to nine. The game was no longer competitive by the time it reached the 10-minute mark in the second half.
"They run a pretty complicated offense, so we had to lock in and tune in," Burton said. "They still got baskets here and there, but when we rely on our defense and our defense comes through for us, then we're a pretty good team."
Jerry Evans Jr. had 11 points and 13 rebounds for Nevada (13-15, 8-7), which outrebounded Air Force 40-31.
It was the fourth game this season in which Air Force never held a lead.
"When we're lackadaisical and play with no energy like we did tonight, it's not going to open up for us," said Max Yon, who scored 12 points for the Falcons to go with five rebounds and four assists.
It's not that there weren't some bright spots for the Falcons. Tre' Coggins, who had gone 0 for 14 from 3-point range over his past two games, hit four 3s and led the team with 14 points. The team had 14 assists compared to just eight turnovers, the third time in four games that the Falcons committed fewer than 10 turnovers.
But the sum of Air Force's positive performances fell well short of equaling a complete team effort.
"We've just got to keep that team mentality where everyone's on the same page," Yon said. "Slapping the floor like we were at San Jose State, playing hard for each other no matter who's scoring."