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Air Force senior Caleb Morris (left) and junior Ameka Akaya watch the team warm up on Thursday. Morris is out with an ankle, while Akaya is away from the Falcons for academic reasons, leaving the team shorthanded. (BRENT BRIGGEMAN, THE GAZETTE)

Idaho State has done this before

The Bengals have a first-year coach in Ryan Looney, but the program has done this before in the Mountain West. Last year the Bengals opened with a loss to Gonzaga, then went to Boise State and beat the Broncos 72-70 in their season opener. This year Idaho State opened with a loss at Wyoming, then went to Air Force and knocked it off in its season opener.

A.J. Walker leads Air Force in scoring

Sophomore point guard A.J. Walker’s 17 points led four Air Force players in double figures. Walker went 7-of-11 shooting and 1 for 2 from 3-point range, hitting the team’s lone 3. Chris Joyce and Ryan Swan had 14 points apiece, while Lavelle Scottie had 13 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds.

Assists hard to come by for Falcons

Air Force’s first assist didn’t come until the opening minutes of the second half, and it finished with just five assists as it made 27 field goals. “We’re a better assist-to-field-goal ratio team than that,” said coach Dave Pilipovich, who pointed toward Idaho State’s physicality and pressure as reasons Air Force came out of its typical style. Scottie led the Falcons with three assists.

Air Force not at full strength

Guard Caleb Morris, last year’s leading 3-point shooter, did not suit up for the Falcons after spraining an ankle in an exhibition against Colorado Christian last week. The Falcons are also without Ameka Akaya, a reserve forward who is not currently with the team for academic reasons but could potentially return midseason.

More figures…

Air Force snapped its streak of 12 straight season-opening home wins, dating back to the 1991-92 season. … Tarik Cool’s 41 points were the most for a Falcons opponent since Bubba Wells of Austin Peay scored 42 points in 1995. … The Falcons made their first 20 free throws, finishing 24 of 27 at the line.

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