No. 25 Lobos dominate FSU 72-45

The nationally-ranked New Mexico Lobos played their entire game down three players Saturday but were rode double-digit scoring from center Alex Kirk and forward Cameron Bairstow to post a dominating 72-45 win over the visiting Fresno St. Bulldogs Saturday afternoon in The Pit before an announced 15,337.

The win moved UNM to 15-2 on the year and 2-0, setting up a battle of Moutnain West Conference undfeateds when the Lobos travel to play upstart Boise St. (1-0 MWC) in Boise Wednesday.

"It was a great win," said head coach Steve Alford. "We needed to get this thing to 2-0 and get it started well. We haven't had a chance to do that in a long time. We've normally been slow starters in the his league race, so it's nice to wake up Monday morning and know we're atop of the league and that the series has been reduced by two games."

New Mexico went against the Bulldogs Saturday without starting guard Kendall Williams – who was benched on a one-game suspension – and reserve guards Demetrius Walker and Chris Perez. Williams dressed but was ill and did not play while Perez was sent home sick.

In their absence, Kirk posted his fourth double-double of the season by scoring a game-high 19 points and pulling in 14 rebounds while Bairstow scored 15 of his 16 points in the first half to lead UNM to a 39-22 halftime lead.

Guard Tony Snell broke out with 16 points and five rebounds showing a more aggressive, slashing style and senior Jamal Fenton added nine points in a season-high 25 minutes of play.

Marvelle Harris was the only Fresno player in double figures, finishing with 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting. The Bulldogs were kept in check by the staunch and suffocating Lobo defense, shooting just 16 of 48 (33%) for the game and 5 of 20 (25%) from three point range.

By contrast, New Mexico shot the best it has in almost a month, hitting 29 of 59 (49.2%). The Lobos vastly outscored FSU in the paint, to the tune of 42-14 and dominated on second chance points, outscoring FSU 23-5.

"I thought defense had a lot to do with (FSU's low shooting percentage,)" said Alford. "To hold them to 22 of 23, 33 percent shooting, out guys ave done a really good job of being tough and doing the things we want to do defensively. And I thought making it hard on them to score would be a big key in this game and we did that."

The Lobos traded baskets with Fresno St. early but then went on a 8-3 run capped by a lay up by Bairstow to take a 17-8 lead with 12:37 left in the first half. The Lobos controlled the pace and action much of the half then closed the half on a 10-2 run to take a 17-point lead into the break.

UNM held a a minimum lead of 18 points for much of the second half before finishing on a 10-1 run.

KENDALL WILLIAMS' BENCHED: Kendall Williams has missed a start for the second time this season Saturday, benched for all 40 minutes by head coach Steve Alford. It was the sixth time in the last two season's the junior, who is considered a team leader by fans and the team alike, has sat due to his tardiness. But it was the first full-game suspension for Williams in his career at UNM.

"He was late," said UNM head coach Steve Alford. "I've tried a lot of different things... so this (benching him) was the next step.

The benching comes just days after Williams was named to a Bob Cousy Award finalist. Ironically Williams found out he had made the Cousy Award watch list just before the Lobos' loss to the South Dakota St. Jackrabbits

Alford said Saturday after the game that Williams was late for a team meeting Friday night and was told Friday night he would not play Saturda. Asked if benching was a "flat one game suspension," Alford was sanguine.

"I don't know if I want to say it's a flat one game (suspension)," said Alford. "I guess that's yet be determined. But I was not going to play him today."

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