LAS VEGAS -- Anthony Bennett scored 23 points and UNLV defeated Air Force 72-56 in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference on Wednesday.
The third-seeded Rebels (24-8) will play Colorado State in Friday's semifinals. The second-seeded Rams beat Fresno State 67-61.UNLV shot 51 percent, with Bennett making 10 of his 14 shots. He also grabbed seven rebounds.Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 12 points and Anthony Marshall scored 11 for UNLV. Mike Moser had nine points and 10 rebounds.Air Force's Michael Lyons, the Mountain West's leading scorer, was carried off the floor with an apparent knee injury with 18:24 left in the first half and did not return. The Falcons had trouble scoring without Lyons, not reaching double figures until Kyle Green's 3-pointer cut UNLV's lead to 21-10 with 7 minutes left in the first half.Green and Marek Olesinski led the Falcons (17-13) with 13 points. Cameron Michael scored 11.
MVP: Freshman Anthony Bennett did whatever he wanted to against the Falcons. He scored 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds and connected on 10 of his 14 field goal attempts. He also recorded a steal and a block in the win.
X Factor: Air Force went 1-1 against UNLV during the regular season. But without leading scorer Michael Lyons (18.3 PPG), who suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return, the Falcons didn't have a chance. Lyons could have changed the game.
That was impressive: The Runnin' Rebels have been inconsistent all season. They entered the tourney after suffering a weekend home loss to Fresno State. But they're a dazzling group when they're rolling (50.8 percent from the field on Wednesday). This is a very athletic crew with a high ceiling.