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New Mexico wins big against Fresno State, 72-45

The SportsXchange

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The big men came up big for No. 25 New Mexico in a 72-45 rout of Fresno State on Saturday afternoon.

The Lobos (15-2, 2-0 Mountain West) were led by junior forward Cameron Bairstow early and sophomore center Alex Kirk late.

Bairstow finished with 16 points and five rebounds, mostly in the first half, while Kirk piled up 19 points and 14 rebounds, mostly in the second half.

"I'll tell you what, those two bigs, they're a load," Lobos coach Steve Alford said. "We're starting to get an identity down low with what we can do with those two guys."

Bairstow was hampered by foul trouble in the second half and ended up fouling out with 3:43 remaining, but by then the game was well in hand for New Mexico.

"We always get the speech that we need to stay out of foul trouble," Bairstow said. "It's obviously a concern, but as long as we get through the first half relatively almost foul-free, we should be able to play most of the second."

The Bulldogs (6-9, 0-2) never threatened in the second half as the Lobos' lead never dipped below 18 points.

Junior guard Tony Snell chipped in 16 points for New Mexico, which was without leading scorer Kendall Williams. The junior guard was suspended one game by Alford for being late to a team meeting on Friday.

"He was late, so if you're late, I've tried a lot of different things, so this is the next step," Alford said. "If I say you've got to be there at 10 o'clock, you've got to be there before 10."

Alford said Williams' suspension was not "a flat one game" and Alford would determine later whether Williams will miss any additional time.

The last time Williams was late and did not start the game, Dec. 22, the Lobos were out of sync and lost 70-65 to South Dakota State.

"There's always concerns, but there's never a concern of doing what's right for the team," Alford said. "Our sport is a team sport. I thought our guys really responded well."

New Mexico did not miss Williams this time, however, rolling to the biggest margin of victory this season.

Bairstow was a force in the first half, leading all players with 15 points while adding a block and three rebounds.

The Lobos closed the half with an impressive 16-2 run. The Bulldogs had rattled off six unanswered points to pull within 23-20 before Chad Adams' layup stopped Fresno State's momentum.

Bairstow then hit back-to-back long jumpers to make it 29-20. After Harris nailed a long shot of his own, Snell hit New Mexico's only 3-pointer of the half to make it 32-22.

The Lobos went inside to score their next seven points, capped by Kirk's three-point play to finish the half.

"They had a great spurt there," Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry said. "We didn't do a great job of taking care of the basketball. They exploited it."

Fresno State lived and died by the 3-pointer early. The Bulldogs hit four, each by a different player, to hang in there for the first 10 minutes.

New Mexico held a 17-14 lead before Jamal Fenton hit a jumper, followed by Greenwood's long shot and Fenton's layup to make it 23-14 before the under-8-minute television timeout.

Bairstow almost single-handedly kept the Lobos alive early on. With his team trailing 5-4, he converted a three-point play. He then scored eight of New Mexico's next 10 points as the Lobos surged to a 17-8 lead.

NOTES: New Mexico junior guard Demetrius Walker did not play due to illness, while senior Chad Adams did not start due to the lingering effects of a hyperextended right knee suffered in Wednesday's win over UNLV. Adams did later enter the game and played 14 minutes. ... Fresno State has never won in the Pit, going 0-6, though the last meeting between the teams in Albuquerque was Feb. 13, 1999. ... Both teams have been all about defense this season, as Fresno State has held 13 of 14 opponents under 70 points. New Mexico has held 15 of 16 teams to 70 points or less.
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