COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- From the shortest guard to the
tallest center, everyone at Air Force has to learn to shoot the
On Wednesday night, it was the center -- 6-foot-10 John Frye --
who made three 3s in the second half to put an stop to an awful
shooting slump and help the Falcons to a 54-46 victory over Georgia
"We said if someone's going to beat us, let him be the guy,"
Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. "We didn't want him to be
that wide open, but they have a lot of shooters."
Frye was clearly the wrong one to ignore on this night. He hit
his first 3-pointer 3½ minutes into the second half to snap Air
Force's 12-minute stretch without a field goal.
He also made 7 of 8 free throws and finished with 18 points, as
Air Force improved to 11-1 in coach Jeff Bzdelik's first season,
the best 12-game record in program history.
"I was a little surprised, considering that's what I've done
before," said Frye, who made three 3s in a 26-point game against
Navy earlier this season, his only other game in double figures.
"But you can't guard all five guys out there all the time."
Jeremis Smith led Georgia Tech (5-4) with 12 points and Ra'Sean
Dickey had 11 for the Yellow Jackets, who have only two
upperclassmen on their roster and don't nearly resemble the team
that made the Final Four two seasons ago.
Of course, Air Force doesn't look anything like the program it
was when it signed the deal to play Georgia Tech a few years back.
Bzdelik has followed coaches Joe Scott and Chris Mooney in
leading a revival of the long-struggling program. When this game
was over, the Falcons screamed and yelled as they left the court,
celebrating their second win this season over an Atlantic Coast
Conference team -- Miami was the other -- an accomplishment this
program wouldn't have dreamed about five or 10 years ago.
"People say, `Well, you've played a soft schedule," Bzdelik
said. "Well, not really."
And while the Yellow Jackets and their ACC players were surely
more athletic than the Falcons, their youth showed. They committed
19 turnovers to only six by Air Force.
They played good defense, holding Air Force to 29 percent
shooting for the game with help from that long field-goal drought.
Still, Hewitt looked at this as something of a step back for his
team, which had been scoring in the 70s and slowly improving,
winning three of four in December before the trip to Colorado.
"I'd be surprised if Air Force doesn't make the NCAA
tournament, with the way they play and run their stuff," Hewitt
said. "This is an opportunity lost for us. Now, we've got to try
to build it back up and get to a point where we get this kind of
The Falcons attacked Georgia Tech the way they go after many
teams that have bigger players and better jumpers, shooting 24 of
their 44 field-goal attempts from 3-point range. Frye's third 3 of
the second half put Air Force ahead 38-32, a lead the Falcons
Clinging to a three-point lead with 1:41 left, Jacob Burtschi
scooped one in from the lane to push it back to five and
essentially seal the game.
Burtschi and Matt McCraw each had 10 points for the Falcons,
whose strong start will make them a favorite in the Mountain West
Conference when they start play there next week.