Rebels shot down again at Air Force, 65-53

COLORADO SPRINGS – It looked like a good omen for UNLV when guard Wink Adams drilled his first 3-pointer just a minute into Saturday afternoon's Mountain West Conference game with Air Force.

After all, Adams had missed his first 10 treys a week earlier at Colorado State before hitting two in a row in crunch time to help rally the Rebels past the Rams. But this time he flipped his cold-shooting woes by missing his last eight 3-point attempts in a 65-53 loss to the Falcons (9-6, 1-1).

Air Force, which was held to just 36 points a week earlier in their MWC opening loss at Utah (58-36), had 32 points at intermission on Saturday. The Falcons, who improved to 64-3 in their last 67 games at Clune Arena, connected on 9 of 19 3-pointers while shooting 61.8 percent (21 of 34) from the floor and led by as many as many as 17 points on three different occasions during the second half.

Meanwhile, UNLV continued to struggle badly against Air Force's zone defense. The Rebels shot a poor 36.2 percent from the floor (17 of 47) including just 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) from behind the arc.

Not exactly the kind of results head coach Lon Kruger envisioned for his Rebels (12-4, 1-1) after having a week to prepare for the Falcons. In fact, the game looked like a carbon copy of some of UNLV's other losses during their six-year drought at Clune Arena.

"Air Force was sharp … and we weren't," Kruger said. "Credit Air Force for a lot of that. You can't be happy with (61.8 percent shooting) for sure. They had their way pretty much with anything they wanted to do offensively."

Senior guard Tim Anderson scored a game-high 27 points for Air Force, connecting on 8 of his 9 field goal tries including two 3-pointers.

"I thought they dictated to us," Kruger said. "They were driving and making plays. … They had us pretty much on our heels defensively."

"We're very disappointed," senior point guard Curtis Terry, who finished with a team-high 12 points (4 of 13) and had four of the team's season-low eight assists, said. "We didn't come out and have a lot of energy and enthusiasm and excitement about this game. We played lackadaisical somewhat. … Factor in that with them shooting the ball very well just makes for a bad night."

UNLV struggled badly offensively for the second straight week. And no one more so than Adams (11 points but just 3 of 14 from the floor) who has connected on just 8 of his 31 shots in MWC play and is a dreadful 3 for 21 from 3-point range in that span.

"After (making) the first three I thought I was going to have a good night," Adams said. "They kind of played a zone and edged out a little bit and had us starting our offense so far out that we really couldn't get to the paint. That's what we struggled with tonight."

"We've got to keep on working to get him better looks," Kruger said. "He has to keep attacking and get better looks."

So what did Kruger tell his team afterward?

"I thought (Air Force) competed a little bit harder, and we certainly aren't a team that can allow that to happen and expect to come out on top," Kruger said. "And really, I thought Colorado State did that last week to us as well. That's two times in a row. That's something where we've won that battle pretty much all year long. And (it's) two times in a row where we actually didn't."

The Rebels can't afford to earn the hat trick in that regard. Next up is a Tuesday night date with preseason conference favorite BYU at the Thomas & Mack Center.

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