Air Force prepared for UNLV’s pressure defense, but it’s hard to simulate in practice.
Not many teams have players as athletic as the Rebels. They turned up the heat on the Falcons in the first half, and Air Force didn’t react to it well. The Falcons scored just four points in the first 10-and-a-half minutes of the game, and 12 of their 23 first-half points came from Kyle Green’s four 3-pointers.
“We backed away a little bit rather than attacking,” Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. “We attacked a little more in the second half, we were more aggressive. But they were really good in the first half.”
Air Force did play better in the second half, scoring 35 points, although it did have nine turnovers. Air Force had 12 turnovers in the first half. The Falcons needed some time to settle in on offense, as the Rebels swarmed them early.
“We prepped for it and we were prepared, but the actual pressure early hit us a little bit and backed us on our heels,” Pilipovich said. “The second half was a different team. We were a lot more aggressive.”
Air Force could play UNLV again in the Mountain West tournament, which is also at the Thomas and Mack Center in a couple of weeks. If they have another meeting, the Falcons should be more prepared than they were to start Saturday’s game, and can take the lessons of being too passive in the first half and learn from them.
“We did in the second half what we were supposed to do in the first half,” guard Michael Lyons said.