Air Force 68, UNLV 55

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- The crowd loudly honored Air
Force senior Antoine Hood before Saturday's game against UNLV, then
he returned the favor, leading the Falcons' to their school-record
23rd win this season.

Hood scored a season-high 25 points in Air Force's 68-55 victory
over the Rebels, which extended the Falcons' winning streak to five
games and kept them undefeated at home this season.

"He was great, had his way whether it was inside, in the post
or on the outside," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.

Air Force (23-5, 11-4 Mountain West Conference) has won 17
straight at Clune Arena extending back to last season, including
the latest in front of 6,260 fans -- the year's biggest crowd and
the fourth-largest in Air Force history.

Louis Amundson scored 16 points and Curtis Terry added 13 for
UNLV (15-11, 9-5), which shot 38.9 percent from the floor compared
with a scorching 59 percent by Air Force.

Jacob Burtschi added 19 points for the Falcons, but the day --
from the pregame ceremony honoring him for his 115 games in a
Falcons uniform to the post-game lap around the court on the
shoulders of fellow cadets -- belonged to Hood.

Hood was one of four Air Force starters who made 3-pointers in
the game's first 4½ minutes to give the Falcons a 16-5 lead.

"Those four 3's early on hurt, because you can't afford to give
those looks up," Kruger said.

When UNLV tightened its defense after a time out and began to
control Air Force's perimeter shooting, Hood started taking the
ball inside. He scored 14 points in the paint on 10-of-13 shooting.

And Hood fittingly made the game's final basket while on the
floor with his younger brother, Adam. His parents, Antoine and
Vanassa, watched from behind the bench -- his mother clutching a
stuffed falcon.

"He's the best defender in the conference in my mind, and maybe
the best all-around player," fellow senior Marc Holum said.
"Every day what he does, it's just unbelievable."

Hood was harder on himself after the game, focusing on his three
missed free throws in six tries.

"There's not a lot of free things in life, free throws are one
of them," Hood said. "Just to miss them like that, it hurts."

The Falcons led 32-23 at halftime, then increased the margin to
41-27 during a 9-4 run capped by Dan Nwaelele's 3-pointer with
15:41 remaining. Nwaelele finished 3-for-4 from behind the arc for
12 points.

The Rebels cut the lead to 46-40 with 10:14 remaining after an
unanswered 3-pointer from Terry and baskets by Amundson and Wendell

But Tim Anderson made his own 3-pointer after an Air Force
time-out to make it 49-40, cooling the Rebels' momentum and
essentially sealing the win for the Falcons.

Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik -- in his first season -- managed to
win more games than any other in school history. The Falcons'
previous record for wins was set in the 2003-04 season, when they
finished 22-7.

The Falcons need a win next weekend at Colorado State and a loss
by San Diego State to share the conference title. But they still
have the conference tournament -- and a possible bid to the NCAA
tournament -- to get them excited.

"This team, I don't think any of us have won a conference
tournament game yet," Burtschi said. "We wanted (the title), we
didn't get it. Now we have a chance to get the conference
tournament title."