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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — NBA scouts lined press row Wednesday to watch UNLV’s fabulous freshman Anthony Bennett.
They got an eyeful of New Mexico’s 7-foot Alex Kirk instead.
Kirk had 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the No. 25 Lobos past No. 24 UNLV 65-60.
“We just kind of went at him,” said Kirk, a redshirt sophomore. “He’s young. He’s a good player but he’s young. We went at him and we got some calls.”
The New Mexico (14-2, 1-0) game plan coming in was to take it right at Bennett, who was averaging 19.9 points and 9.1 rebounds.
“We wanted to make him guard,” said Lobos coach Steve Alford. “He’s a freshman He’s as talented as anybody we’ve played. Inside and out, he’s extremely skilled. When you play guys like that, you really have to try and make them guard.”
Bennett was frustrated in the first half, scoring just four points with two rebounds and also picked up two fouls.
Although he broke out early in the second half with eight points to fuel a 15-2 Rebels’ run that put them up 45-39, Bennett picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with 14:14 left in the second half.
“It was difficult to play without him for that extended period of time,” UNLV coach Dave Rice said. “But I thought out guys stepped up and did a good job in his absence.”
And UNLV (13-3, 0-1) had no answer for Kirk, who hit two 3-pointers in a 16-point first half.
“He was outstanding tonight,” Alford said.