New Mexico 70, San Diego State 60By Chris Jackson, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Thu, Feb 28, 2013 12:51 AM EST
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Alex Kirk scored 25 points as the New Mexico Lobos inched closer to the Mountain West regular-season title with a 70-60 win over visiting San Diego State on Wednesday night. The 7-foot Kirk was 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and his 3-pointer with about 1:30 remaining gave the No. 14-ranked Lobos an insurmountable 64-53 lead. Cameron Bairstow added 16 points before fouling out late in the game for New Mexico (24-4 overall, 11-2 Pac-12), which remained two games ahead of Colorado State with three to play. Jamal Franklin scored 16 points to pace the Aztecs (20-8 overall, 8-6 Pac-12), though he was just 3-for-13 from the floor. San Diego State trailed 50-35 with 11 minutes remaining when the Aztecs finally seemed to find a spark. With Kirk on the bench getting a rest, San Diego State went on an 11-2 run to pull within 52-46 with 7:01 remaining. The game was played at the free-throw line for most of the next four minutes -- each team only made one shot from the floor -- but the Aztecs could not get any closer than five points. Franklin made four straight free throws to keep San Diego State within six, but Kirk made two free throws and then hit his 3-point dagger to extend New Mexico's lead to 11 points. The Lobos came out on fire to start the second half. Hugh Greenwood nailed a 3-pointer to get things started. After some back-and-forth, Kirk hit two free throws and then a 3-pointer to expand the lead to 38-30. Layups by Williams and Bairstow pushed the advantage to 42-30. James Rahon tried to keep the Aztecs alive with a 3-pointer, but the Lobos rattled off three straight baskets for a 48-33 lead. Franklin and Kirk traded shots, keeping New Mexico up by 15 after the under-12-minute media timeout. The Lobos took a 28-26 lead after a back-and-forth first half that included 12 ties and lead changes. The final tie came at 17-17 when Bairstow put in a shot. After a media timeout, Kirk hit a short jumper to put New Mexico ahead for the remaining seven minutes of the first half. Kirk made the biggest shot during the Lobos' final surge, hitting a 3-pointer that made gave New Mexico a 27-22 lead. O'Brien countered with a short jumper, followed by Greenwood making 1 of 2 free throws to keep New Mexico ahead, 28-24. Franklin would hit two free throws before the end of the half to keep it a one-possession game. Neither team shot particularly well in the first half. The Lobos shot 37.5 percent (9-for-24) while the Aztecs shot 40 percent (10-for-25). Both teams were woeful from 3-point range, with each making just one basket from beyond the arc. Kirk led New Mexico with 11 first-half points, while Franklin paced San Diego State with eight. NOTES: The Aztecs entered the game with five wins in their last seven appearances in The Pit. UNM still holds an overall 25-9 advantage in Albuquerque. ... The Lobos have been ranked in the top 25 for 13 weeks this season, their most under Alford, topping the mark of 12 weeks in 2009-10. The only season the Lobos spent more time in the polls was 1998-99, when UNM spent all 18 weeks as a ranked team. ... Williams' 46-point outing against Colorado State on Saturday was the most points ever scored by a Lobo on the road. His 10 3-pointers set a UNM record and a Mountain West record for 3s in a conference game.
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