AIR FORCE ACADEMY - Everywhere they go, the Air Force Falcons see constant reminders of outsiders' low expectations for the long-struggling program.
The media picked them to finish last in a deep Mountain West Conference, a preseason prediction that's plastered to the locker room doors and across grease boards.
"We have some great teams in this league, but ninth? Come on!" coach Dave Pilipovich said Saturday as he basked in the Falcons' 70-67 victory over No. 22 San Diego State. "I joke that there were a couple of guys that picked us 10th - and we're in a nine-team league. We constantly remind ourselves: This is what people think of us."
Maybe not anymore. Michael Lyons scored 20 points and the Falcons fended off San Diego State by overcoming 25 points and 10 rebounds from Aztecs star Jamaal Franklin, who scored 14 over the final 9 minutes to help San Diego State nearly overcome a 12-point deficit.
The Falcons' latest stunner sets up a showdown in Albuquerque, N.M., next week for - get this - first place in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball this season.
There's talk that the league could get five or even six NCAA tournament bids this year, and now the Falcons are crashing the party. They'll take some serious swagger into The Pit, the next stop on their told-you-so tour.
- The Associated Press
Nothing changes with coach Larry Eustachy's Colorado State Rams. Not ever. Defense gets played. Rebounds are grabbed. And yes, of course, wins are earned. They are a freight train at Moby Arena, and so far most teams have been steamrolled trying to stop them.
Wyoming found this out Saturday. Colorado State used a 13-0 run spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to help put the Cowboys away, 65-46 before a raucous, sellout crowd.
It is the third straight victory for CSU, which has won five of its last six and maintained its position of second place in the Mountain West. The win bumped CSU's home win streak to 26 straight, which now qualifies for the third-longest streak in the nation after Kansas had its 33-game streak snapped in a loss to Oklahoma State earlier in the day.
This CSU team is the fastest to 18 wins in school history, and it got there by placing five players in double-figure scoring in addition to playing tougher for longer and answering every Wyoming run.
- The Denver Post
SALT LAKE CITY-Holding onto second-half leads has been a major problem for Utah all season. The Utes blew double-digit leads in losses to CS Northridge, Sacramento State and BYU earlier in the year and appeared to be on the way to doing the same against Colorado.
This time, however, Utah made just enough plays in the final seconds to avoid repeating history.
Brandon Taylor drew a charge on Spencer Dinwiddie with 9.7 seconds left and Glen Dean hit a pair of free throws on the other end to help Utah survive a late Buffaloes rally and upset Colorado 58-55 on Saturday afternoon.
Jason Washburn scored 13 points and collected 11 rebounds, while Jeremy Olsen added 12 points off the bench, to lead the Utes (10-11, 2-7) to their second Pac-12 win of the season. Utah also beat a Division I opponent at home for the first time since a 62-53 victory over SMU in mid-December.
"We've had games that we should have won that we lost, and tonight was a game that was really close," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "This is one of those games that we made enough plays. I thought Glen's free throws were big going down the stretch. It feels good. There's no doubt about it."
Dinwiddie had 18 points, while Andre Roberson chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds, for the Buffaloes (14-7, 4-5), who added a damaging loss to their NCAA tournament resume.
After trailing by as many as 22 points, Colorado made a late second-half run to get back into the game. The Buffaloes held Utah without a field goal over the final 10:44 of the game to whittle the Utes' lead down.
- The Denver Post