FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs Air Force – Game 28

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (17-11, 6-10 MWC) | Air Force Falcons (14-16, 5-12)

Franchise Sports Media


The Runnin’ Rebels snapped their three-game losing streak as they defeated the Air Force Falcons 54-53, improving to 6-10 in MWC play.

Friday nights the UNLV vs Air Force basketball game took place at Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, Nevada.

UNLV vs Air Force Kevin Krueger
Photo Credit: Alon Sowell/Franchise Sport Media

It was a miracle finish for the UNLV’s Men’s basketball team, as they scored twice in the final 10 seconds to steal a victory over the Air Force Falcons. EJ Harkless had the game-winning putback with 1.7 seconds remaining.

Credit Jackie Johnson with an inbound steal that led to the game-sealing play. With that, the Rebels snapped a three-game losing streak.

Air Force took a 53-50 lead on a pair of free throws from Rytis Petraitis with 16 seconds left, but Harkless found Shane Nowell inside for a dunk to pull the Runnin’ Rebels within one.

Air Force’s Ethan Taylor threw an errant inbound pass that Johnson picked off, and the latter passed the ball off to Keshon Gilbert, who missed a layup, and Harkless snagged the offensive rebound.

It was a back-and-forth game all night, with 14 lead changes and four ties. Air Force’s largest lead of the game was seven points in the first half, while UNLV’s biggest advantage was just three points.

Kevin Kruger said postgame, “Couldn’t be more proud to continue to fight. The hardest part about playing Air Force is having guys who haven’t seen it. There’s no way to truly simulate what they do. The guys focused on the defensive side this week. Guys made plays and didn’t quit.”

The UNLV vs Air Force game was a close contest.

Kruger added, “We’ve had some games where it just kind of felt like something was about to go wrong. Tonight, hopefully getting over the hump, we can get that swagger back.”

The UNLV vs Air Force game was a Mountain West Conference match-up, with both teams needing a win. 

UNLV vs Air Force EJ Harkless
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sport Media

Harkless went to work, totaling 23 points (9-for-17 FGs, 0-for-6 3s), with 18 of his points coming in the second half, along with seven rebounds and three steals. David Muoka scored seven points while finishing 3-for-3 from the floor, along with five rebounds and three blocks. Shane Nowell was 3-for-7 shooting (0-for-3 from distance) to finish with six points.

Petraitis led Air Force in scoring, finishing with 16 points (5-for-9 FGs) and ten rebounds. Jake Heidbreder added 16 points (4-for-6 3s). Carter Murphy (6-for-11 FGs, 1-for-2 3s) also had 13 points, five steals, and two blocks.

With the Rebels missing Luis Rodriguez and Eli Parquet due to injuries, we once again had the chance to see some of the reserves in action. Johnson was a significant part of the game-winning play. However, he also contributed three points (1-for-6 FGs, 1-for-5 3s), three rebounds, and two steals. Keyshawn Hall added five points (2-for-4 FGs) that made the difference in a tight game.

UNLV had a good start from Muoka, who scored six of the first eight points for the Rebels, but a long stint with no stoppage allowed Air Force to build a quick lead. It was also a very slow start for the Scarlet and Gray, as they shot 6-for-16 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range.

Jackie Johnson and EJ Harkless were key players in the UNLV vs Air Force game. 

A key issue for UNLV in the first half was that they had committed 12 turnovers, most unforced. Harkless had five by himself, with McCabe adding four turnovers.

The UNLV vs Air Force basket game was filled with turnovers early in the game. 

UNLV vs Air Force Jordan McCabe
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sport Media

UNLV and Air Force combined for eight points in the first nine minutes of the second half, as both teams struggled on offense.

The Runnin’ Rebels won this game despite shooting just 15 percent from beyond the arc (3-for-20) and 41.5 percent overall (22-for-53). The Rebels also shot 0-for-9 from three in the second half. In addition, UNLV committed 17 turnovers, with seven coming from Harkless.

UNLV’s saving grace, though, was their defense, as they held Air Force to 31.8 percent from deep (7-for-22) and 39.2 percent from the field (20-for-51). The Rebels also forced the Falcons to cough up the ball 16 times in total. 

UNLV improved to 15-0 this season when holding its opponent to 72 points or less. UNLV also improved to 45-15 all-time in the series against Air Force and 33-2 all-time vs. the Falcons while at home.

Up next is Senior Night against the Utah State Aggies.

The final score for the UNLV vs Air Force game was 54-53.

Don’t forget to go out and support the Runnin’ RebelsClick here to get your UNLV Runnin’ Rebels tickets! 


The Runnin’ Rebels will now take on Utah State Wednesday, March 1st, at 8:00 pm PT. The game will be available on CBS Sports Network.


-Jake Ideguchi-Furukawa – Franchise Sports Media

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