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Instant Reaction: UNLV 72, Air Force 56

UNLV Runnin' Rebels took advantage of an critical Air Force injury and their own edge on the inside to defeat the Falcons 72-56 in the opening round of the 2013 Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, NV Wednesday.

USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS – The UNLV Runnin' Rebels took advantage of an injury to Michale Lyons of the Air Force Falcons while getting their own duo of Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett going to defeat the Falcons 72-56 in the opening round of the 2013 Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, NV Wednesday.

Lyons fell early on in the game, victim of a knee injury, and did not return. With Lyons, the Falcons kept the game close early. Without him in, the Rebels engineered a 17-3 run to take a 26-10 lead with 6:19 left in the first half. UNLV would lead 33-20 at halftime with a lead based largely on 13 turnovers by the Falcons, which the Rebels converted to 15 first half points - their edge in the first half.

The Falcons came out shooting in the second half and cut the lead to 38-29 on a trio of 3-pointers by Kyle Green, Todd Fletcher and Marek Olesinski, but UNLV responded with an 11-4 run fueled by six points from freshman Anthony Bennett. The Rebels would push the lead out to 20 points as Air Force had no answer for their offensive output and was forced to shoot threes to try to get back in the game.

Bennett led all scorers with 23 points on a solid 10 of 14 shooting and pulled in seven rebounds. Bryce Dejean-Jones added 12 points and five assists for the Rebels and Anthony Marshall added 11 points, four assists and four rebounds. Mike Moser paced UNLV on the boards with 10 rebounds in addition to nine points.

Kyle Green and Marek Olesinski both scored 13 points for Air Force off the bench, combining to go 10 of 17 from the field. Cameron MIchael added 11 points. Green led the Falcons with six rebounds.

Air Force fell to 17-13 on the season, hoping for a post-season bid in either the NIT or other second tier tournaments.

UNLV advances to Friday's semifinals with a record of 24-8.