Air Force (8-3) at Richmond (9-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 2, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Robins Center (9,071) -- Richmond, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: Air Force 5-1, Richmond 7-1. Away Record: Air Force 2-1, Richmond 2-3. Neutral Record: Air Force 1-1, Richmond 0-1. Conference Record: Air Force 0-0, Richmond 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Air Force Falcons look to bounce back and pick up their first win of 2013 on Wednesday when they invade the Robins Center for a non- conference bout against the Richmond Spiders.
Richmond's head coach Chris Mooney served as Air Force's head coach for one season before leaving to coach the Spiders. This will be the first meeting between these schools on the hardwood. Both will begin conference play after this inaugural bout. The Falcons will return home to face Mountain West rival Nevada and the Spiders stay in Richmond to host Atlantic 10 rival Rhode Island.
Air Force lost for the third time in six outings to drop to 8-3 on the season on Dec. 29, when it suffered a 78-61 setback to Florida. Coach Dave Pilipovich began his first full season as the program's head coach with five straight victories, but the Falcons were unable to carry that early success into its tough battles against Colorado (89-74) and Wichita State (72-69). Air Force can be a very tough defensive unit as seven of his opponents have failed to reach the 70-point plateau and two were held under 50. Offensively, AFA is netting 75.5 points and 16 assists per contest.
Mooney's Spiders will try to snap their three-game losing streak before entering league play. Richmond dropped a 70-64 decision to Davidson on Dec. 29 to arrive at a 9-5 record that includes notable wins over Wake Forest (62-60) and James Madison (83-82 OT). The Spiders averaged 73.5 points per game over their first 11 outings, but they have managed to generate only 62.3 ppg during the current three-game slide. They have held their opponents to 65.4 ppg on 43.7 percent shooting from the field.
The Falcons were unable to provide one of their stingy defensive efforts against Florida their last time out, as the Gators knocked down 53.8 percent of their field goal attempts. Michael Lyons led Air Force with 11 points and seven rebounds, but his effort in the paint was not enough as the undersized team was outrebounded 36-25. AFA is making up for its lack of big men by ranking seventh in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52) while also appearing ninth on the leaderboards in both 3-pointers made per game (9.1) and turnover margin (5.5). Lyons is producing team-high numbers with 19.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Taylor Broekhuis is chipping in 11.1 ppg and Todd Fletcher is adding 9.9 points and 4.1 assists per outing.
Darien Brothers hit a milestone his last time out by scoring 16 points to become the 41st Richmond player to eclipse the 1,000-point mark, but it was not enough as his team fell to Davidson. The Spiders played from behind for the entire game until they tied the score at 61, but they ran out of steam to be outscored 9-3 over the final 2:21. Kendall Anthony added 13 points, Trey Davis scored 12 off the bench and Greg Robbins tacked on 11 points. Brothers is the go-to-guy in the offensive system which has led to team-bests of 15 ppg and 38 makes from beyond the arc. Richmond has some alternative scoring options in Derrick Williams (13.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Anthony (12.5 ppg), and Cedrick Lindsay (10.3 ppg).
Although it was too little too late, the Spiders finally found their touch against Davidson and they will bring that momentum into this one. Air Force will need to give a huge effort on the glass to survive its trip to the Robins Center.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Richmond 72, Air Force 62
01/02 10:33:06 ET