New Mexico up to challenge from Boise StateBy Phillip Lopez, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sun, Feb 17, 2013 1:01 AM EST
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Boise State rallied in the second half to give No. 19 New Mexico all it could handle in front of a sellout crowd of 15,411 at the Pit, but the Lobos held off the Broncos 60-50 on Saturday night. Boise State (16-8, 4-5 Mountain West) used a 5-0 run to pull to 47-46 with 5:05 remaining, but New Mexico responded with an 8-0 push, highlighted by an Alex Kirk dunk, to boost the lead to 53-46. Lobos junior forward Cameron Bairstow finished with a team-high 16 points. Guards Tony Snell (12), Kendall Williams (10) and Jamal Fenton -- who didn't score in the first half but finished with 11 points -- all reached double figures for New Mexico (22-4, 9-2). "If you see the team struggling offensively, you want to do something to help them out," said Bairstow, who was 5 of 8 from the field and 6 of 8 from the free-throw line. "To continue to get good shots is a priority in the game." Boise State converted 42.9 percent of its shots from the field in the second half and played stingy defense, but the Lobos' ability to get to the line 25 times compared with the Broncos' 10 free-throw attempts proved to be a critical factor. "They do a good job at that," Boise State coach Leon Rice about the Lobos' ability to get to the line. "They execute their offense, they put pressure on you, they are disciplined. ... They're just a rock-solid team." The Lobos overcame 27.3 percent shooting from the field (6 of 22) in the second half and 34.7 (17 of 49) for the game. They remained a half-game ahead of Colorado State, which won earlier on the road at Air Force, in the Mountain West standings. Rice was happy with the way Boise State defended. "I thought we guarded them pretty well," he said. "We held them to a low percentage and we were right there with three minutes to go." Derrick Marks finished with a game-high 15 points and was the only Boise State player to score in double figures. Lobos junior guard Demetrius Walker was held out of the game with a sore knee, but it does not appear to be a serious injury. "It's a knee bruise we are told. Not a ligament thing," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. Williams got the crowd involved after a slow start from both teams with a highlight-reel steal and dunk to pull the Lobos to 8-7 with 14:43 left in the first half. The Lobos took all the momentum from there, and thanks to offensive outbursts from Snell (10 points), Williams (eight) and Bairstow (nine), went into the break with a 29-23 lead. The trio combined for all of the Lobos' field goals. The other six New Mexico players that saw action pitched in a combined two points -- free throws from Kirk and Nick Banyard. New Mexico shot just 40 percent (11 of 27) from the field in the first half but held Boise State to 37 percent (10 of 27) and forced the Broncos into 10 turnovers that led to eight New Mexico points. "That was their lowest output of the year and this is a very good offensive team -- probably the best statistical team in the league," Alford said. Marks had nine points at the half for Boise. Jeff Elorriaga attempted five of Boise State's 11 3-point shotss and made one. Boise's inability to convert from beyond the arc -- making just 2 of 11 (18.2 percent) -- put them in a hole early. Alford put Bairstow on the perimeter to defend Elorriaga and his 3-point shooting. "Cam's a power forward, if not center. So he did a good job," Alford said. "He's got great feet and he can keep people in front of him."
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