UNLV (14-3, 1-1), which had shot a sizzling 45.5 percent (15 of 33) from 3-point range a few nights earlier in a 98-94 double overtime win over Utah, missed its first 17 shots behind the arc and saw its 10-game winning streak come to an end with a 56-50 loss at No. 20 Air Force (15-1, 2-0) on Saturday afternoon.
Kevin Kruger’s trey with 1:55 to go, which cut Air Force’s lead to 52-48, was UNLV’s only 3-pointer in 18 attempts and extended the school’s NCAA-record of 648 straight games with a trey.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik said of his team nearly breaking the streak. “That was the furthest thing my mind.”
Bzdelik noted that the Falcons, which came into the game shooting a conference-leading 46.4 percent from 3-point range, made a season-low three treys in 12 attempts.
“They did the same thing to us, really,” Bzdelik said of UNLV’s perimeter defense. “UNLV’s a great basketball team. Somehow we just found a way to put a couple of more points on the board than they did. That was the only difference.”
Indeed, the Runnin’ Rebels held a huge 39-20 rebounding edge over the Falcons, including a dramatic 17-1 advantage in offensive boards.
However, Kruger (1 of 9, four points), Wink Adams (1 of 7, two points), Michael Umeh (0 of 1, zero points), Marcus Lawrence (0 of 1, zero points) and Curtis Terry (0 of 4, zero points) combined for just six points on 2 of 22 shooting, including 1 of 15 on treys. At least three of those 3-pointers rolled in-and-out.
“We’ve got to shoot better,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “Air Force is a very good defensive team, but we weren’t able to convert the opportunities that we were given. Obviously, the missed three’s hurt.”
“The shoots just didn’t fall tonight,” Kevin Kruger, who was eight of 16 from behind the arc against Utah, said. “Hopefully they’ll fall the next game.”
Forward Wendell White led UNLV with 20 points and 12 rebounds while centers Gaston Essengue (10 points, six rebounds) and Joel Anthony (10 points, three rebounds) also scored in double-figures.