College Basketball Nation: Grant Parker

Halftime: New Mexico 38, Air Force 31

March, 11, 2010
  • Air Force just keeps hanging around. Evan Washington hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half only down by seven and celebrated with a flurry of fist pumps. The No. 9-seeded Falcons, despite being outmatched talent-wise, held an early lead and think they're still in this one.
  • Mountain West Conference player of the year Darington Hobson had a big first half with 13 points and seven rebounds. He's 4-for-6 from the field and has hit all four of his free throws. The left-hander's been very impressive in using his size and quickness as a guard.
  • Air Force shot 57.1 percent from the first half and had the same number of defensive rebounds as UNM did. Why are the Falcons trailing? It's been the Lobos' size advantage that's helped them to six offensive rebounds (Phillip McDonald has three) while the Falcons have none.
  • Grant Parker was held scoreless despite leading the Falcons in scoring during the regular season. He has two personal fouls and played only seven minutes.
  • New Mexico fans travel well, and it's showing at the noon game here at the Thomas & Mack Center. The sections behind one of the baskets are entirely red (it helps the seats are that color). Calls going against UNM are getting booed. Lobos fans were lining up early to get tickets. It's impressive.

Mountain West tournament quarterfinal previews

March, 11, 2010
LAS VEGAS -- We're live at the Thomas & Mack Center, where Day 2 of the Mountain West Conference tournament is set to start. Here are some previews to get you started.

Game 1: No. 1 Mexico vs. No. 9 Air Force

Do the Falcons, a team that won only one conference game during the regular season, have a chance to pull the upset? On Feb. 20, they went into The Pit and held a lead with under 30 seconds left before the Lobos went on to win by three. Air Force played at such a slow pace that coach Jeff Reynolds told the Colorado Springs Gazette after the game that he didn't even necessarily mind shot-clock violations. New Mexico will have to be careful of being lulled to sleep and also watch Air Force's leading scorer, Grant Parker, who is feeling better after missing a huge chunk of the year with a groin injury and scored 15 in a win against No. 8-seeded Wyoming.

Game 2: No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 5 Colorado State

San Diego State has won the past 10 regular-season meetings between the two teams, but Colorado State did beat the Aztecs in a 2007 conference quarterfinal. Freshman of the year Kawhi Leonard will play in his first elimination game, as the Aztecs hope to see him shine with the team on the bubble. CSU also has a talented freshman in guard Dorian Green. At 16-14, the Rams will have their first season under third-year coach Tim Miles that doesn't end with a sub-.500 record.

Game 3: No. 2 BYU vs. No. 7 TCU

Only five days ago, BYU played on the road against TCU and won by 30 points even after trailing at one point by 14. At home, the Cougars won by 20. So for all of the talk of it being difficult to beat a team three times in a season, this could very well happen in this series. Oh, and by the way, BYU has 12 straight wins against TCU. The Cougars would love to see Jimmer Fredette at full strength after a bout with a stomach virus and then have the game turn into a glorified scrimmage. Jim Christian, who wasn't pleased after the last game, hopes that doesn't happen.

Game 4: No. 3 UNLV vs. No. 6 Utah

Game-time decisions are a factor in this one, as UNLV hopes to get Derrick Jasper back and Utah looks to have David Foster and Kim Tillie healthy from their sprained ankles. Foster, the Utes' 7-foot-3 center, is a top shot-blocker who was named the conference's defensive player of the year and is questionable after not practicing, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. UNLV's home-court advantage is a factor, though Utah swept the season series, including a four-point win in January at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels are hoping for a big night from leading scorer Tre'Von Willis.

Air Force ends losing streak

January, 31, 2010
Air Force had lost 22 straight Mountain West Conference regular season games before downing Wyoming 70-63 on Saturday.

The Cowboys were without injured leading scorers Afam Muojeke and Adam Waddell, but Air Force knows what that's like. Falcon players entered the game having missed a combined 43 games due to injury, with six of them having suffered concussions.

Air Force has gotten leading scorer Grant Parker back from a stress reaction in his pelvis.

Athletic director Hans Mueh told the Denver Post that he "absolutely" thinks coach Jeff Reynolds has the program going in the right direction.
"People send me nasty-grams, saying I should fire the coach," Mueh said. "This is his third season. He had a winning season his first year. I'm probably more patient than some of our fans. But most of our fans still are with us."

Mountain West mojo

January, 6, 2010
The Mountain West Conference could very well end up being the top conference on the West Coast, and San Diego State's upset at home last night against a ranked New Mexico team only highlighted its depth.

Four NCAA tournament bids aren't out of the question, according to Andy Katz, but injuries are also mounting. Even during the Aztecs' win, leading scorer Billy White went down with a high ankle sprain and could miss extended playing time.

Aztecs coach Steve Fisher indicated after the game that White's injury wouldn't be used as an excuse, telling reporters, "Nobody cares when people are hurt."

Feel free to read up about the some of the MWC's hurting players, though.
  • BYU's Jimmer Fredette and sidekick Jackson Emery will play in tonight's conference-opening showdown with UNLV, according to a team spokesman. Both guards sat out on Saturday against Eastern New Mexico, with Fredette suffering from a post-49-point case of strep throat and Emery because of a bruised heel.
  • Utah's injury bug won't go away. Forward Kim Tillie underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, and the senior could miss up to three weeks. David Foster, Jason Washburn, Jay Watkins have returned to action after missing time.
  • Air Force forward Grant Parker, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, has missed the past six games with a groin injury, but was listed as day-to-day leading up to tonight's conference opener at TCU. Taylor Stewart underwent wrist surgery on Monday while Sammy Schafer and Avery Merriex are dealing with concussions.
  • San Diego State forward Tim Shelton is playing again after missing the first eight games of the season while recovering from offseason microfracture surgery on his knee.