(Sports Network) — The 15th-ranked BYU Cougars try to continue their domination over the Air Force Falcons this afternoon as the two teams meet in a Mountain West Conference showdown at the Marriott Center in Provo.
Not only has BYU beaten up on the Falcons since their series began back in 1961, the Cougars are also taking care of business this season against all challengers and are currently 15-1 with the MWC slate ready to kick into high gear. On Wednesday night, the Cougars faced off against nationally-ranked UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and delivered a knock-out blow, 89-77, in the conference opener. The victory was the fifth in a row since BYU was bounced by UCLA in Anaheim back on December 18th.
As for the Falcons, they also opened up their portion of the conference schedule with a win three nights ago, taking down the Utah Runnin' Utes at home in Colorado with a 77-69 decision. The win was the second in a row and the third in the last four tries for Air Force.
The Cougars own a commanding 52-12 lead in the all-time series between these two teams, capturing 10 straight decisions versus Air Force. Last season the Falcons, who last won in 2006 with a 75-59 triumph at home, were blown away in a 91-48 decision here in Provo in February. A month earlier the game was a bit closer, 67-49, but it was still a loss for the academy.
The starting five for the Falcons hit the glass hard in the meeting with Utah, and the team in fact beat the Utes on the boards by a 30-24 margin, which is one of the reasons why the academy picked up the win at home on Wednesday night. It also helped that Michael Lyons erupted for a game-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and Tom Fow tacked on 17 points in the triumph. Also scoring in double figures were Taylor Broekhuis with 12 points to go along with seven rebounds, while Derek Brooks chipped in 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Also worthy of mention was Evan Washington who overcame 1-of-5 shooting from the field to contribute 11 assists and eight rebounds to the cause. Washington, who was one of the main players last season for the Falcons, is allowing some of his teammates to take control of games these days as he sits back with his 8.9 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Lyons is putting up 13.6 ppg and Fow another 12.6 ppg, the latter hitting 44.3 percent of his three-point tries to this point in the campaign. Defensively, this is a group that is holding foes to just 62.9 ppg on 38.7 percent shooting from the field through 14 games.
It was a first for head coach Dave Rose during his time at BYU, his team beating UNLV in Sin City earlier this week. Preseason All-American Jimmer Fredette made sure the team would be able to celebrate the rare victory as he registered a game-high 39 points on 7-of-13 shooting behind the three-point line and 12-of-25 from the floor overall. Fredette also added six rebounds and five assists in the contest. Jackson Emery responded with 22 points, converting 6-of-9 out on the perimeter, and Brandon Davies 15 points and a team-high 10 rebounds as well. For a team that lives outside the arc, attempting more than 20 shots per game on the average, it was good for the squad to knock down a solid 50 percent of those chances on Wednesday night. Fredette (25.1 ppg) and Emery (12.4 ppg) continue to shoulder the load when the ball swings around the outside, having combined for 89 of the unit's 131 three-point conversions through 16 games. Because of the team's success from downtown, it should come as no surprise that the Cougars are generating 84.2 ppg, at the same time that they are holding the opposition to just 65.8 ppg as well.