LAS VEGAS -- Air Force hung around thanks to some accurate three-point shooting, but UNLV never surrendered the lead in the second half and grabbed a 74-63 win.
Chris Wood led UNLV in scoring with 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting. The big man also grabbed 10 rebounds and made 7 of 9 free throws. Wood came alive in the second half, after scoring just six first half points, as he was kept out of the paint by Air Force's zone.
The Falcons shot 10 of 22 from three and only got the free throw line eight times. UNLV hit 9 of 24 threes and shot 17 of 24 at the free throw line, but only two of those attempts came in the first half.
Both teams relied on the three against zone defenses in the first half. UNLV shot 17 threes (compared to 11 twos), and Air Force shot 11 threes (compared to 11 twos) in the first half.
UNLV closed the first half on a 6-0 run by holding the Falcons scoreless for the final 3:55. The Rebels followed that up with a 9-4 run to open the second half, which gave UNLV a 38-28 lead. After that the Rebels never looked back, as the lead never got below six.
The Runnin' Rebels wore their road black uniforms at the request of Air Force, which doesn't have road uniforms this year, according to Dave Rice.
UNLV is now 13-9 (4-5 Mountain West), while Air Force falls to 9-12 (2-8).
- UNLV has now won three-straight games in their slow climb up the conference standings. UNLV is just one game out of sixth place - the lowest seed that gets a bye in the Mountain West tournament.
- Dantley Walker played 4:13 and knocked down a three plus dished out an assist.
- The biggest surprise in Walker's four-plus minutes was that Air Force was held scoreless. Walker shoots it well enough to see playing time, but his defense limits him. But the Rebels played zone against a small Air Force team, which allowed Walker to hide.
- Jelan Kendrick turned in a terrific all-around performance, as the senior scored 15 points (6 of 10 shooting) and added five rebounds and five assists.
- Dave Rice was pleased with UNLV's total assist count, which ran up to 16 assists on 24 made shots.
- Rashad Vaughn (11 points on 4 of 10 shooting), Cody Doolin (11 points on 3 of 5 shooting) and Pat McCaw (11 points on 4 of 8 shooting) were the other Rebels to hit double figures.
- Air Force did a decent job on the offensive glass given their size disadvantage. The Falcons snagged 12 offensive boards but only cashed those in for 12 points.
- Justin Hammonds gave UNLV the most trouble inside with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
- Marek Olesinski added 11 points thanks to 3 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc.
- UNLV scored 1.45 points per possession in the second half, showing a much improved zone offense.
Dantley Walker and Pat McCaw
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- Dave Rice on Jelan Kendrick: "JK probably played his most complete game of the season."
- Dave Rice on Dantley Walker: "A big factor in the game was Dantley Walker. He played four minutes in the game, and I thought he turned the momentum in the first half."
- Pat McCaw on the Rebels threes: "Coach Miller got on us for shooting too many threes against the zone. We have a great shooting team, but he said work inside out. And it helped us."
- Pat McCaw on Dantley Walker: "It’s totally different when Dantley is on the floor. He gets the most applause out of everybody. He gives us a little spark. He makes the game fun."
UNLV will get the week off, as the Rebels get their second bye in the Mountain West schedule. The first bye was used to play at Kansas. On Saturday UNLV will head out to Colorado to take on Colorado State in search of four-straight wins. Air Force - still looking for its first conference win over a team not named San Jose State - will host New Mexico on Wednesday.