Kirk, Bairstow lift No. 14 Lobos to key victory

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When New Mexico post players Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow last saw San Diego State in the first meeting between the teams last month, they combined for two points and nine rebounds.

It was quite a different story Wednesday night for the Lobos’ frontcourt duo.

Kirk scored a season-high 25 points, and Bairstow added 16 to help No. 14 New Mexico beat the Aztecs, 70-60.

“They’re like anybody — when they don’t play well against somebody, you want to make up for that,” Lobos coach Steve Alford said. “They did not have very good games in San Diego, and I think they really responded in this game.”

Kirk hit all three of his 3-point attempts and scored seven points during a 15-3 run early in the second half that pushed New Mexico’s lead to 48-33. He also had seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks for the Lobos (24-4, 11-2 Mountain West), who are one win from clinching outright the regular-season conference title.

Bairstow had five rebounds before fouling out. Nine of his points came late in the second half during a span of almost five minutes when he was the only New Mexico scorer. He went 5 of 6 from the foul line, drove the lane for a dunk and added a short jumper to hold off San Diego State (20-8, 8-6), which had pulled to 52-46 with seven minutes left.

“I think a big key was what our two bigs did,” Alford said.

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said the Aztecs couldn’t cope with New Mexico’s defensive pressure and offensive execution.

“I know we didn’t guard very well, not like we have the last couple of games,” Fisher said. “A lot of that is on New Mexico. The team is very hard to guard. Our defense let us down.”

That, however, is what makes the Lobos such a successful team, Alford said.

“We’re hard to prepare for,” he said. “I think that’s what makes us a unique basketball team.”

New Mexico’s offense didn’t miss a beat even though leading scorer Kendall Williams, who had 46 points in his previous game, finished with just eight.

Williams contributed in other ways, with eight assists and six rebounds.

“I thought Kendall was patient,” Alford said. “He didn’t come out and shoot bad shots. He was patient, had eight assists, did a lot of good things.”

It didn’t help the Aztecs that Jamaal Franklin, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, went 3 of 13 from the field.

■ Colorado State 74, Fresno State 67 — At Fort Collins, Colo., Wes Eikmeier scored 18 points, and a defensive adjustment shut down the Bulldogs’ Kevin Olekaibe in the second half of the Rams’ victory. Dorian Green added 16 points and Colton Iverson 12 points and 12 rebounds for Colorado State (22-6, 9-4).

Olekaibe, a Cimmaron High School product, led Fresno State (9-18, 3-11) with 18 points on 6-for-6 shooting from 3-point range. The Rams put Jon Octeus and Daniel Bejarano on Olekaibe to start the second half and held him to just an early 3-pointer.

■ Boise State 73, UNR 47 — At Boise, Idaho, Anthony Drmic scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half, leading the Broncos (19-8, 7-6) over the Wolf Pack. Deonte Burton had 13 points for UNR (12-15, 3-10), which had more turnovers (17) than field goals (10) while shooting 26 percent from the field.

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