Luke Nevill had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in Utah's win over Air Force on Jan. 16.
Feb. 13, 2007
UTAH RUNNIN' UTES VS. AIR FORCE FALCONS
Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:05 p.m. (MST)
Clune Arena (5,834) Colorado Springs, Colo.
UTAH (9-14, 4-6)> Head Coach: Ray Giacoletti Alma Mater: Minot State, 1985 At Utah: 53-34 (3rd Season) Career: 170-117 (10th Season)
AIR FORCE (21-4, 8-3) Rankings: No. 17 (Assoc. Press) No. 14 (ESPN/USA Today) Head Coach: Jeff Bzdelik Alma Mater: Illinois-Chicago, 1976 At AFA: 45-11 (2nd Season) Career: 70-42 (4th Season)
MEDIA COVERAGE Television: VERSUS DirecTV 608, Dish Network 151, Comcast-SLC 34 Tim Neverett (play-by-play), Craig Ehlo (analyst) Radio: Sports Radio 700 The Zone Bill Riley (play-by-play), Mark Rydalch (analyst), Scott Gerrard (host) Internet Audio/Live Stats: www.UtahUtes.com Get Utah All-Access Here
THE SERIES Overall: Utah leads 43-11 Utah Home/Away/Neutral: 25-3/16-8/2-0 Current Streak: Utah has won 1 Last Meeting: Utah won 85-79 on Jan. 16, 2007 in Salt Lake City
QUICKLY ON UTAH
The Runnin' Utes (9-14, 4-6 MWC) face the nationally ranked Air Force Falcons (21-4, 8-3 MWC) on Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. (MST) at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. The game will be televised nationally by VERSUS (DirecTV 608, Dish Network 151, Comcast 34 in Salt Lake City) and broadcast on Sports Radio 700 The Zone. Air Force is ranked 17th by the Associated Press and 14th by ESPN/USA Today.
Utah has won two in a row and four of its last six games. The Runnin' Utes opened the second half of their Mountain West Conference schedule with a 70-65 win at TCU on Feb. 3. Utah then returned home to defeat Colorado State 82-77 last Wednesday night. Utah is 7-5 at home this season, 1-7 on opponents' home courts and 2-9 away from home overall.
Sophomore center Luke Nevill (7-1, 265) is the Utes' leading scorer (17.1 ppg) and rebounder (7.9 rpg). He is shooting 64.2 percent from the field, 77.4 percent from the free throw line, and also has a team-best 22 blocked shots. Junior guard Johnnie Bryant (6-0, 180) is second on the team in scoring (15.2 ppg), and has connected on 42.3 percent (69-for-163) of his 3-point attempts and 80.3 percent of his free throws. Bryant leads the team in assists (2.74 apg). Sophomore forward Shaun Green (6-8, 208) is third on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg), and is second in both assists (2.35 apg) and rebounding (6.1 rpg). He is shooting 55.8 percent from the field and 56.0 percent (56-for-100) from 3-point range. Green also leads the Utes in steals (30) and is second in blocked shots (11).
In the latest NCAA statistical rankings released on Feb. 12, Utah ranks fourth in 3-point percentage (42.3), 14th in field goal percentage (49.0), 82nd in 3-pointers made per game (7.5), 28th in free throw percentage (73.8) and 53rd in rebound margin (+4.1 rpg). Nevill is ninth in field goal percentage (64.2), 88th in points per game (17.1) and 79th in rebounds per game (7.9). Bryant ranks 32nd in 3-pointers made per game (3.0) and 39th in 3-point percentage (42.3). Green is out of the 3-point field goal rankings for the second consecutive week after falling below the minimum mark to qualify of 2.5 3-pointers made per game.
RUNNIN' UTE NOTABLES
Seven of the 13 Utes who have seen action this season are first-year players. Six of those players are freshmen. The nine freshmen and sophomores who have played account for 68.3 percent of Utah's points, 83.0 percent of its rebounds, 63.7 percent of its assists and 68.2 percent of its minutes.
Utah has won its last four games decided by six points or less after losing its first nine this season.
Eight of Utah's 14 losses have come by a combined 19 points. The Utes have lost three games by one point, four by three points and one by four points. Three of Utah's losses have been in overtime.
The Utes have shot at least 50 percent from 3-point range 10 times and at least 50 percent from the field 11 times in 23 games this season.
Utah is 1-8 this season when opponents shoot at least 50 percent from the field and 4-11 when they shoot at least 40 percent from 3-point range.
The Utes are 7-0 when leading at halftime and 2-14 when they trail this season.
SCOUTING AIR FORCE
The Falcons are 21-4 overall and tied for second place in the Mountain West Conference with an 8-3 record. They are ranked 17th by the Associated Press and 14th by ESPN/USA Today. Air Force has won 28 consecutive games at home, tying BYU for the longest active streak in the NCAA. Last week, the Falcons lost 62-41 at San Diego State on Tuesday night and won 60-51 at New Mexico on Saturday afternoon.
Senior forward Dan Nwaelele (6-5, 206) leads Air Force in scoring (14.6 ppg), field goal percentage (55.8), and 3-point percentage (49.1, 54-for-110). Senior forward Jacob Burtschi (6-6, 225) is second in scoring (13.8 ppg), first in rebounding (5.7 rpg), and second in steals (35). Senior guard Matt McCraw (6-2, 185) is the third Falcon averaging double-figures in points (11.3 ppg), and is shooting 46.8 percent (51-for-109) from 3-point range and a team-best 90.9 percent from the free throw line. Junior guard Tim Anderson (6-3, 180) leads the Falcons in assists (2.76 apg).
In the NCAA rankings as of Feb. 12, Air Force ranked second in scoring defense (55.1 ppg), sixth in scoring margin (15.5 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage (50.8), seventh in 3-point percentage (42.1), 11th in 3-pointers per game (9.2), sixth in free throw percentage (76.4), 51st in assists per game (15.6) and fourth in turnovers per game (10.4).
COMPARING THE NUMBERS
Utah Air Force Overall Record 9-14 21-4 MWC Record 4-6 8-3 Scoring 70.2 70.6 Scoring Defense 70.3 55.1 FG% .490 .508 FG% Defense .493 .418 3-Pt. FG% .423 .421 3-Pt. FG% Defense .446 .309 FT% .738 .764 Rebound Margin +4.1 -0.7 Assists 14.2 15.6 Turnovers 14.2 10.4 Opp. Turnovers 11.8 14.6 Steals 5.0 6.6 Blocked Shots 2.0 1.7
HEAD COACH JEFF BZDELIK
Jeff Bzdelik is in his second season at Air Force. In 2005-06, he led the Falcons to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, a 24-7 overall record and a tie for second place in the MWC with a 12-4 mark. Bzdelik brought 28 years of coaching experience with him, including three as an NBA head coach and 12 as an NBA assistant.
Before taking over at Air Force, Bzdelik was the head coach of the Denver Nuggets for two and a half seasons, beginning with the 2002-03 season. In 2003-04, he led the Nuggets to the playoffs for the first time since 1994-95 while posting a 43-39 record. From 1995-2001, Bzdelik was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. He also served as an assistant coach with the Washington Bullets from 1988-94.
The Illinois native began his coaching career in 1978 at Davidson (N.C.) College. In 1980, he was named as an assistant coach at Northwestern University where he spent six seasons. He then took the head coaching position at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County for two years. Bzdelik is a 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education.
UTAH VS. AIR FORCE SERIES NOTES
Utah and Air Force meet for the 55th time on Wednesday night. The series dates back to a 108-57 win by the Runnin' Utes on Dec. 23, 1965 in Salt Lake City.
The Utes lead the all-time series 43-11. Utah has won eight of the last 12 and 18 of the last 23 games against the Falcons.
Air Force had won two in a row and four of the last six meetings before the Runnin' Utes took the first meeting this season 85-79 on Jan. 16 in Salt Lake City.
The Falcons swept the season series in both 2003-04 and `05-06. Utah won both games in 2004-05.
In Colorado Springs, Colo., the Utes are 16-8 and have won seven of the last 10 games. Utah lost last season 66-44 on Jan. 19. The Utes' two other losses during that recent stretch were 71-60 on March 1, 2001 and 62-49 on Jan. 26, 2004. Utah's last win at Clune Arena was 65-56 on Feb. 19, 2005.
Utah has a 38-11 record against Air Force in conference regular season games. Since the start of the Mountain West Conference in 1999-2000, the Utes have a 10-5 advantage in regular season games and 12-5 when including MWC Tournament games.
Ray Giacoletti is 3-2 all-time against Air Force with all five of those games coming during his career at Utah. He is 1-1 against Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Jeff Bzdelik is 1-2 against Utah with all three of those games coming during his tenure at Air Force.
The Utes ended No. 13 Air Force's 13-game winning streak by shooting 70.7 percent in their 85-79 upset of the Falcons on Jan. 16 in the Huntsman Center. Utah won for the first time in nearly a month and stopped a six-game losing streak, the school's longest slide since 1950.
Luke Nevill had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Johnnie Bryant scored 18 points for the Utes, who shot 68 percent in the first half and then topped that off with an even better performance over the final 20 minutes.
Utah made 11 straight free throws down the stretch to hold off every rally the Falcons attempted. When it was finally over, Bryant heaved the ball straight up in the air and celebrated Utah's first victory since Dec. 20.
After Dan Nwaelele got the Falcons within 78-72 on a layup, Ricky Johns made two free throws with a minute left, then the Utes broke the press and got the ball to Nevill for a two-handed dunk that all but sealed it.
Utah committed 13 turnovers in the first half, but compensated by going 13-for-19 from the field--5-of-8 on 3-pointers--and holding the Falcons to 36 percent shooting. The Utes were even better in the second half, going 16-for-22.
Air Force, which shot 48 percent, scored three points on five straight possessions late in the second half, getting either a 3-pointer or three-point play. But each time the Falcons made a run Utah did just enough to hold them off.
Bryant and Green each hit 3-pointers after Air Force had gotten within five points and the Utes were able to seal it from the line after the Falcons had to foul at the end.
Utah shot a season-best 70.7 percent from the field. The Runnin' Utes also recorded the fourth-best single-game field goal percentage mark in school history. The previous fourth-best mark was 70.0 percent versus San Jose State on Jan. 23, 1999.
The Runnin' Utes' got their first win over a team ranked in the Associated Press poll since defeating No. 17 Oklahoma (67-58) on March 19, 2005 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Utes' previous win over a ranked team at home was over No. 1 Alabama (51-49) on Dec. 30, 2002
The Runnin' Utes host the UNLV Runnin' Rebels on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. (MST). The game was originally scheduled to tip-off at 4:35 p.m. but was moved to accommodate a national telecast by VERSUS. Utah then plays at Wyoming on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6:05 p.m. (MST).