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Alex Kirk was among three University of New Mexico Lobos to drop in a team-high 14 points in a Mountain West Conference win Wednesday.
Kirk, Cameron Bairstow and Tony Snell each finished with 14 points as the Lobos earned a decisive win in The Pit.
The Lobos (20-3 overall, 7-1 in Mountain West) only trailed briefly in the first half, but outscored the Air Force Falcons 42-29 in the first 20 minutes and cruised to an 81-58 win. The Falcons (14-7, 5-3) actually had a chance going into the game to earn a share of the Mountain West lead, but the Lobos’ balanced offensive attack was too much for them to handle.
The Lobos had five players post double-figures Wednesday. Hugh Greenwood and Kendall Williams combined for 24 points on the night as UNM shot 48.1 percent from the floor.
Lobo coach Steve Alford, whose team is ranked No. 15 in the nation, said he likes what he’s seen out of the Lobos but knows there is still a lot of basketball left to play.
“Teams are finding that out the hard way and it’s really hard to win on the road,” Alford said. “Especially in a league like ours, and for us to have eight wins away from home is terrific. We know that if we’re going to win a championship we have to win games away from home. We took advantage in the first half of the season and did a great job. We have to turn around and start the road trip and it’s not going to be easy. Playing at Vegas and Fresno is not an easy way to get things going.”
Kirk hit 6 of 8 shots from the floor, including a 3-pointer, against Air Force and also pulled down 8 rebounds. Kirk might have been the leading scorer in the game, but he went an uncharacteristic 1 of 5 from the foul line.
For the Falcons, guard Michael Lyons and forward Mike Fitzgerald both finished with 16 points. No other Air Force player finished with more than 6.
UNM held Air Force to a 20-for-50 shooting performance for the game. Air Force connected just 9 times from the field in the second half.
Kirk said afterward the Lobos have done a lot to make a name for themselves in the national ranks this season.
“I think we are a tough team,” Kirk said. “We have been through a lot and every team has but it’s been a tough season. I think we have been very successful and that means that we have proven our toughness. We need to keep doing that.”