AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- For more than 10½ strange and
painful minutes, the string of futility played out. Layups,
3-pointers, free throws -- Brigham Young couldn't get anything to
"It was," as Air Force guard Antoine Hood put it, "not a good
night to be a Cougar."
The result for BYU: A 19-0 deficit en route to a 70-39 loss to
Hood and the Falcons on Monday night, an unmistakable low point to
a season that has been full of them for the struggling Cougars.
"The most embarrassing 40 minutes of basketball I've been
involved with since I've been at BYU," said coach Steve Cleveland,
in his eighth season at the school.
Hood scored 14 points to help the Falcons (16-10, 7-4 Mountain
West) recover in a big way, two days after they had their 24-game
home winning streak snapped by No. 12 Utah.
The Cougars (9-18, 3-9), meanwhile, played awfully at the
beginning and didn't get much better as the night progressed. The
result was the most lopsided conference victory ever for Air Force
in its not-so-glorious half century of basketball.
"I think we were up 8-0 and I was like `Whoa, that's a good
start," Air Force coach Chris Mooney said. "Then it was 10
minutes before they scored, and I thought maybe this is more than a
Fielding a young lineup missing two regulars, Cleveland tried
almost every combination during the scoreless string, which lasted
10 minutes, 40 seconds, to be exact.
Substitutes came in, then sat back down. Two media timeouts
passed, along with two more called by BYU.
About midway through the drought, Brock Reichner picked up the
ball around midcourt and had an unimpeded path to the basket. Air
Force's Caleb Buchanan caught up, though, and blocked the shot,
marking BYU's ninth straight miss to start the game.
"We tried six, seven, eight different things, none of which
worked," Cleveland said. "And that's hard on the psyche of a
young man. ... It was something we couldn't get a grasp on."
By the time BYU finally scored, the Cougars had attempted 10
shots, had four of them blocked, gone 0-for-2 from the free-throw
line, committed four turnovers and had the ball stolen three times.
It was Austin Ainge -- the son of former Cougars star Danny Ainge
-- who put a merciful end to the ugliness, hitting a shot from three
feet behind the top of the 3-point arc to make the score 19-3.
More than six minutes later, with the crowd at Clune Arena
shouting "double digits," Chris Miles finally got the Cougars
there by making a layup.
By halftime, it was 37-13. The 13 points were the least Air
Force had ever allowed in a half in conference play, and surpassed
BYU's all-time record for scoring futility in a half (1980 and 1982
against Wyoming -- before the shot-clock came to college hoops) by
just one point.
"You can't show any mercy in a situation like that," Hood
And no, Air Force didn't feel bad about any of this.
For decades, the Falcons had been doormats to BYU and pretty
much everyone else in the MWC, and the Western Athletic Conference
before that. Just two years ago, BYU ran to a 30-10 halftime lead
over Air Force en route to a 65-33 victory. The Cougars never let
up that evening.
"I remember that game pretty well," senior guard Tim Keller
said. "They didn't let up. It's a respect thing for each team.
Every man on the court is going to play his hardest. They did it my
sophomore year and we did it tonight."
Indeed, things have changed drastically at Air Force over the
last two seasons. The Falcons made their first appearance in the
NCAA tournament in 42 years last season.
But without winning the conference tournament next month, a
repeat this season seems unlikely, especially after last weekend's
loss to Utah, which Air Force dearly needed to increase its RPI
ranking of 104.
"That game's obviously going to hurt," Keller said. "It was a
different mindset out there tonight, and I liked it."
This win did guarantee the Falcons of a second straight winning
record, though -- a feat not accomplished since 1975-76 -- and kept
the 20-win mark within reach.
Sam Burgess had nine points to lead BYU, which
uncharacteristically got blown out. This was only the second of 12
conference games this season in which the Cougars haven't led or
been tied at some point in the second half.
"In every game, I felt we competed," Cleveland said, "and
tonight, we didn't compete."