After falling behind 9-1 in one of the most hostile environments in the Mountain West Conference, Air Force put together a 13-5 run to tie the game at 14 with 9:31 left in the half. The Falcons then played right with the league’s best team for about the next six minutes.
But 12- to 13-minute stretches of good basketball aren’t enough. Especially against the best team in the league. Especially on that team’s home floor.
And especially when those stretches are followed with stretches that resemble the Falcons’ last three-and-a-half minutes of the first half and first 10-and-a-half of the second.
During that time, the Falcons were outscored 37-7, they made just two field goals and they got points on just five of 26 possessions. BYU, meanwhile, got points from six players, made 3-pointers on four straight possessions and built a 32-point lead.
“We lost them in transition a bunch of times, and we were scrambling on defense and they did a great job of finding the open man, making extra passes,” Air Force junior guard/forward Andrew Henke said. “They did everything. And then we didn’t come down and execute on the offensive end.”
Air Force plays well enough to keep up with the best teams in the league for stretches. But – right now – the Falcons not good enough to do it for entire games.
-Talk about a glimpse of the future. Midway through the first half, Air Force had three freshmen on the floor – guard Evan Washington, who has started every game this year; forward Derek Brooks, who has played in four of the Falcons’ last five games; and center Phillip Brown, who played for the first time this year.
-What a debut by Brown. The 6-foot-7 center from Georgia was a heralded recruit, but his development was slowed because he missed a good chunk of practices early in the year (the coaching staff held him out so he could concentrate on academics). But Brown has earned playing time in practice, Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said, and was rewarded Saturday night.
And despite playing in one of the league’s toughest venues and against one of its best post players (Trent Plaisted) for much of the time he was on the floor, Brown was effective. Six points, four boards and three blocks. Pretty good.
-Not surprised by the technical foul called on Reynolds. Actually surprised he hadn’t gotten one earlier this season, the way he gets after the refs. Saturday he was maybe one more complaint away from getting a second “T” and getting tossed.