TCU Grounds Air Force in 65-54 Win
Air Force unable to get the offense going in Fort Worth
Falcons held to season-low 54 points
FORT WORTH, TX—After taking two steps forward following an embarrassing loss in the season opener, Air Force took the proverbial step backward on Monday night, falling 65-54 to TCU. The Falcons held close with TCU for much of the game, but faltered down the stretch at Schollmaier Arena.
Coming into the game, many eyes were on Desmond Bane and Lavelle Scottie, two players who were picked for their respective preseason all-conference teams. But with both suffering through cold shooting nights, it was TCU’s Kevin Samuel who stepped into the limelight.
Samuel, a 6-10 sophomore from Houston, recorded his third consecutive double-double to pace the Horned Frogs. The big man finished with a career-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He also pulled down 11 rebounds, one off from his season average.
Sophomore guard RJ Nembhard also reached double figures for the third time in as many games. Nembhard had a career-high 16 points in the previous game against Louisiana, but fell just shy of that mark against the Falcons, putting up 15 on Monday. He also added five assists, sharing the team lead in that category with freshman Francisco Farabello, who poured in 11 points of his own.
While TCU (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) had three double-digit scorers, star senior Desmond Bane was not among them. Bane finished the game with just five points on 2-for-11 shooting. The fourth-year guard scored 26 and 25 points in the first two games of the season, respectively, but couldn’t get going against Air Force.
The Falcons had struggles of their own.
No Air Force player scored more than Ryan Swan’s nine points. Lavelle Scottie finished with seven but was held scoreless in the first half. It was just the second time in the past 30 games that Scottie has been held to single-digit scoring. Three more Falcons—Sid Tomes, Caleb Morris, and AJ Harris—each chipped in eight points.
The game was close throughout the first fifteen minutes, before TCU went on a late first-half run to extend the lead to as many as 14 points. Air Force (2-2, 0-0 MWC) came out swinging in the first half and was able to cut the deficit the just a single point after a LeSean Brown layup with 7:45 to play.
But the Horned Frogs finished on a 13-3 run to stay unbeaten on the year. The loss moves Air Force to .500 on the young season.
The Falcons’ lack of consistency is starting to become a worrisome hallmark and Thanksgiving is still more than a week away. Head coach Dave Pilipovich needs to find a way to get the most out of his best players every night. Otherwise, it will be a long winter in Colorado Springs.
UP NEXT: Air Force heads for the warmer climates of the Bahamas. The Falcons will take part in the Junkanoo Jam, playing three games between Thursday and Sunday. Their first opponent is Loyola Marymount. The Falcons will also play Duquesne and Indiana State during the event.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.