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Kirk has big night in exhibition contest vs. NMHU

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Former Los Alamos Hilltopper Alex Kirk had a big night for the University of New Mexico Lobo men’s basketball team Monday night.
Kirk had 16 points coming off the bench for the Lobos in their 92-70 exhibition win over the New Mexico Highlands University Cowboys.
Kirk hit 4 of 10 shots from the floor and went a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, along with adding three steals and a pair of blocked shots in 21 minutes.
Monday’s exhibition contest was the first action for Kirk since the 2010-11 season. He sat out the entire 2011-12 season after undergoing back surgery in the offseason.
“It felt really good,” Kirk said of his return. “Definitely the first few minutes I was really nervous. I had flashbacks of that Detroit game my freshman year of me running up and down the court not knowing where I was going. Once I got the flow, I felt really good and felt my condition come in with me and got a little bit of a second wind in me and it felt really good.”
Kirk also hurt his ankle during the preseason and had to sit out the Lobos’ exhibition contest over Victory University Oct. 31.
UNM, which hasn’t lost a home exhibition game since 2001, dominated a 6-plus minute span in the first half, outscoring NMHU 26-3. The Cowboys helped out during that run, misfiring on nine straight shots as UNM moved out to a 41-18 with 3:25 left in the half.
The Lobos will open the 2012-13 season at home next Monday when they host Davidson.
Kirk said he was glad to be back into the Lobos’ lineup after a long time riding the pine.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “The ultimate goal is Davidson. With the coaches and players around me, I knew that was our main goal. If I had to miss one game, this would be the time to miss. We continued to work. Our trainer and I probably put in 35 treatments since I had the injured ankle so I have to thank him waking up and meeting me in between classes to work on the ankle and massage it and ice bucket.”
Lobo head coach Steve Alford said he was pleased with the effort he saw out of UNM.
For next week’s opener, Alford didn’t say whether Kirk would be back in the starting lineup — Kirk was in the starting five for about half of his freshman season.
“Well, we’ll see. We’ll watch more tape and everything,” said Alford. “We don’t pay much attention to that. It’s not like Cam (Barstow) was here last year playing and that Alex was out hurt. Cam’s done an awful lot to earn the starting part and so has Alex. Alex has done a lot of good things to earn the starting spot…It’s very difficult to sit out a year. And to come right back in and play the schedule we have to play, I don’t want to lose him three, four, five games into this thing. We’ve go to build it slowly and today was a good first step for him.”