Air Force (16-10) at Fresno State (9-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Save Mart Center (15,596) -- Fresno, California. Television: None. Home Record: Air Force 12-2, FSU 5-8. Away Record: Air Force 3-7, FSU 4-10. Neutral Record: Air Force 1-1, FSU 0-0. Conference Record: Air Force 7-6, FSU 3-11. Series Record: Fresno State leads, 9-5.
GAME NOTES: The Air Force Falcons shoot for back-to-back wins for the first time in a month, as they take the floor against the Fresno State Bulldogs in Mountain West Conference play at the Save Mart Center on Saturday night.
Air Force, which is tied with Boise State for fifth place in the MWC standings with a record of 7-6, was in action on Tuesday night as it captured a 72-66 victory over Wyoming at home. The win snapped a two-game slide and was just the second in the last six games overall for the Academy.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have had very little to cheer about in 2012-13 during their transition from the Western Athletic Conference to the MWC. Fresno State has won a total of just three games in the new calendar year, the most recent coming against Nevada in overtime a few weeks back. On Wednesday night, the team was taken out by Colorado State in Fort Collins, 74-67, dropping FSU to 3-11 in conference play, which leaves the Bulldogs all alone in last place entering the weekend.
In terms of the all-time series, Fresno State owns a 9-5 advantage over Air Force, but the Falcons won the first meeting of the season in late January by a score of 62-50 at home.
Kamryn Williams came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points and pull down 10 rebounds, as the Air Force Falcons delivered a six-point win over the Wyoming Cowboys in conference play at Clune Arena earlier this week. Also scoring in double figures for the Falcons were Michael Lyons with 13 points, DeLovell Earls 12 and Mike Fitzgerald 10 points. In a game that featured seven ties and 10 lead changes, Air Force held a 35-27 advantage on the glass and turned the ball over just seven times in order to offset a dismal 3-of-18 showing on the outside.
Against conference foes this season, Lyons is putting up an impressive 18.0 ppg as he shoots 48.4 percent from the field and 83.0 percent at the free- throw line. However, Lyons has had his issues behind the 3-point line where he is just 28.8 percent accurate, which is a considerable drop-off from the team's overall mark of 36.1 percent through 13 games. Mike Fitzgerald accounts for another 12.2 ppg and is first with 4.5 rpg, but outside of their effort on Tuesday night, the Falcons are still being beaten on the glass by almost five per game.
Kevin Olekaibe was a perfect 6-of-6 behind the 3-point line for the Bulldogs on Wednesday night, finishing with 18 points, but it wasn't enough as FSU took the loss against Colorado State on the road. Also scoring in double figures for the visitors were Marvelle Harris with 14 points, Allen Huddleston 12 and Kevin Foster 10 points off the bench. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the defeat was that, while Olekaibe was knocking down all of his perimeter tries, his teammates combined to make just 1-of-9 on the outside.
Tyler Johnson, who leads the team in scoring on the season with 12.0 ppg, tallied a mere four points on Wednesday night before fouling out. Huddleston (9.8 ppg) and Olekaibe (8.7 ppg) have been looked to for considerable offensive contributions, but both players are shooting less than 36.5 percent from the floor at the moment and they brings the entire squad down to just 39.1 percent and a meager 60.0 ppg.
There are times when the Fresno State defense can dial up the pressure and keep opponents from having strong outings, but it always seems as though the Falcons are ready to respond to such challenges.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 69, Fresno State 56
03/02 11:11:52 ET