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Hot-shooting Utah takes down Air Force

Jan 17, 2007 - 7:09 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Utah found a way to slow down Air Force - don't miss.

Johnnie Bryant and Luke Nevill scored 18 points apiece and the Utes shot 70 percent to hand the No. 11 Falcons an 85-79 Mountain West Conference loss.

Utah (5-12, 1-4 Mountain West) ended a six-game losing streak and denied Air Force's attempt to match a school record with its 14th consecutive win.

Five players scored in double figures for the Utes, who rolled to a 31-21 halftime lead behind 68 percent shooting (13-of-19). Lawrence Borha scored six points in an 11-0 run to give Utah a 25-10 lead with 5:37 left in the half.

"We have been full of ourselves and not started good the last three ballgames," Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik. "We've allowed teams to get off to a high percentage shooting and dug ourselves a hole. It caught up to us tonight. I take full responsibility for that."

"They controlled the game all night, they really did."

Neville, a 7-1 sophomore center, hit all eight of his shots from the floor and pulled down 10 rebounds, helping Utah establish a 25-17 edge on the backboards.

"The guys got me the ball a lot this game, and I know how hard it was," Neville said. "Air Force played a very tight-knit defense and kind of double-downed me a bit and surrounded me a lot. It is a huge relief to get this win, especially against a ranked team like Air Force.

"We needed a win, and this win is especially sweet. We played excellent defense, and our motto for this game was, 'just keep coming.' We needed this win to get us going." Air Force (17-2, 4-1) managed to slice the lead to 55-50 on a 3-pointer by Jacob Burtschi with 8:12 to play.

The deficit remained at five until Shaun Green connected from the arc and Borha scored inside to push the lead back to double digits, 63-53, with 5:28 left.

Utah never cooled off, shooting a blistering 78 percent (16-of-22) after intermission and making 12-of-13 free throws in the final 4:04.

Green scored 15 points, Ricky Johns added 14 and Borha 13 for the Utes, who had lost their first four conference games for the first time since 1952-53. Borha finished 6-of-7 from the field and added four assists.

"They just left me open, and it was just like they disrespected me, and I just had to knock down shots," Borha said. "This game was a big game. They came in here and we shocked them. We can turn this around."

Burtschi scored 21 points and Dan Nwaelele contributed 20 for the Falcons, who lost despite hitting 12 3-pointers and making 17-of-18 foul shots.

"Utah is a good basketball team," Bzdelik said. "They are young and a team that is so close to reversing its record. I was aware of that, but failed to convey that to my team."

    --- --- -----
    AIR FORCE (11) 21 58 79
    UTAH 31 54 85 FINAL

    Jan 17 12:09 AM

    AIR FORCE (11) 21

    Jan 16 10:48 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 41 roots

    Air Force vs. UtahJan 16 10:48 PM