AIR FORCE at UNLV
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. AIR FORCE F/C GRANT PARKER
The Falcons’ senior made his first appearance since Dec. 8 in Saturday’s loss to Utah. Parker, who had missed 10 games with a pelvic injury, appeared out of sync and scored just four points with one rebound in 15 minutes. The Falcons desperately could use the scoring he provided in their first seven games when he averaged a team-high 17.1 points.
2. UNLV G TRE’VON WILLIS
The 6-foot-4 junior ranks second in the Mountain West Conference in scoring at 17.6 points per game. But in league play, Willis leads the MWC, averaging 24.2 points in six games. After Willis scored a career-high 30 on Saturday at TCU, Horned Frogs coach Jim Christian told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “To this point and from what I’ve seen, (Willis is) the best player in the league.” Willis, the reigning MWC player of the week, ranks sixth in the league in field goal percentage (49.3), third in free-throw percentage (86.4) and ninth in assists (3.1 per game).
3. THE PACE OF THE GAME
The Runnin’ Rebels will “try to extend their pressure on us, try to make us play faster than we want to play,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. Because of that, the Falcons will need to be “very, very smart with our shot selection,” Reynolds said. They’ll also need to hurry back on defense because UNLV “will try to push it down our throat with transition,” Reynolds said. If UNLV, which averaged 75.2 points in its first six league games, can score in transition and get the Thomas & Mack Center crowd into the game, look out.
Quote to note: “They’re all athletic, they’re all quick and they’ve all got length. They remind me somewhat of New Mexico.” – Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds on UNLV.
Note to quote: Air Force has been outrebounded in each of its first five Mountain West Conference games. Combined, MWC opponents have grabbed 171 rebounds to the Falcons’ 134.