GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Air Force Falcons takes place on the hardwood of Clune Arena on Wednesday night, as the Pack tips off its first season of Mountain West Conference play.
Formerly of the Western Athletic Conference, Nevada is one of a number of schools that has made the switch in the last couple of seasons to the MWC. The squad has been out of action since New Year's Eve when it suffered a 56-43 loss to Oregon, a defeat that snapped the team's five-game win streak. Unfortunately for the Pack, the team is just 1-4 on the road in 2012-13, the lone victory coming by a mere three points, 76-73, against Washington last month.
As for the Falcons, a team which has won all but one of six home dates thus far, they are trying to avoid their first three-game slide of the season. In fact, it wasn't until a Jan. 2 loss at Richmond (91-68) that the Academy had even lost back-to-back outings. At 8-4 overall, Air Force is one of three teams in the heavily-competitive MWC that has yet to register double-digit victories.
Against Oregon the last time out, the Wolf Pack looked absolutely dismal through the first 20 minutes of action, sinking just six of 31 field goal attempts and coming up empty on 10 tries behind the 3-point line. Nevada improved in the second half, but still the team dug a hole too deep from which to climb out of. Deonte Burton tallied 12 points, Jordan Burris 11 and Malik Story 10 points. Usually the most reliable scorers on the team, Burton and Story combined to shoot just 8-of-33 from the floor, 2-of-14 out on the perimeter. Story continues to be the leading producer for the Pack overall with his 16.8 ppg, while Burton checks in with 15.7 ppg which means both players are scoring better than their career marks of 14.7 and 14.5 ppg, respectively. The pair account for a huge portion of the unit's 72.4 ppg, which means if either one of them has a bad outing, it tends to hurt the group significantly.
After giving up just 53 points to UC Riverside in their previous outing, the Falcons lost their defensive punch when they dropped in to the Robins Center to face Richmond last week. In fact, the 91 points tallied by the Spiders was easily the most permitted so far this season by the Academy. Richmond not only shot 54.7 percent from the floor, the team also knocked down 16-of-26 (.615) on the outside as well. Michael Lyons was the lone double-digit scorer for the Falcons with his 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. As a team, Air Force finished with 22 made field goals, nearly matched by its 18 turnovers. Lyons continues to be the main scoring threat for the Falcons, putting up 19.6 ppg which is one of the highest averages in the MWC. Lyons is also first on the glass with 5.2 rpg and for a change Air Force is not getting blown away on the boards, trailing the competition by just 0.2 rpg at the moment.
Lyons is certainly a top-notch performer for the Falcons, but the Pack has two such players in Story and Burton which means they out-number Air Force in that area.
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