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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Alex Kirk knew of former New Mexico standout and NBA player Kenny Thomas, but didn't know he had just surpassed him.
Kirk set a New Mexico freshman scoring record with 31 points Wednesday night as the Lobos defeated Cal State Bakersfield 102-62.
Kirk, who was 11 of 13 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, more than tripled his previous high of 10 points, matching that figure with 8:31 left in the first half.
"My father told me about Kenny Thomas," said Kirk, a 6-foot-11 post player. "I know he was a great player. I didn't even think about (setting the record), I just kept playing."
New Mexico coach Steve Alford said Kirk keeps improving. "For him to have a night like this, this early in his career is surprising."
Thomas held the previous Lobos freshman scoring record with 30 points in 1996.
New Mexico (12-3) and Bakersfield (8-7) traded leads eight times and were tied 20-all before the Lobos went on a 16-0 run. New Mexico ended the first half on a 30-9 run to lead 50-29 at the break and converted 14 of its last 21 shots to end the half.
Kirk finished the first half with 13 points, then scored the first seven points of the second half for the Lobos.
"Every time he scored another basket, he looked over to the bench and smiled," Alford said. "He was almost in disbelief himself."
Dairese Gary added 15 points and Drew Gordon 14 for New Mexico (12-3), which shot 57 percent from the field, including 8 of 18 3-point attempts. Kendall Williams had eight points, 10 assists and four steals for the Lobos.
Robert Hayes had 16 points for Bakersfield, which shot 32 percent from the field and committed 22 turnovers.