ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Putting 7-foot post Alex Kirk and 6-9 power forward Cameron Bairstowon the floor at the same time is not always the lineup of choice for No. 25 New Mexico.
But the two inside players may just start seeing more playing time together if they continue to play the way they did Saturday against Fresno State. The two Lobos combined for 35 points and 19 rebounds in a 72-45 victory.
``It's a pretty good one-two punch we've got going inside right now,' New Mexico coach Steve Alford said.
Bairstow hit his first six shots to score 15 of his 16 points in the first half and Kirk had 12 of his 19 points and nine of his career-high 14 rebounds in the second half.
``I tell you what, those two bigs, they're a load,' Alford said. ``And we're starting to get an identity down low with what we can do with those two guys.'
The big men combined for nine points in a 16-2 run that gave the Lobos their largest halftime lead of the season at 39-22.
``I thought today they were just outstanding,' Alford said. ``Alex continues to prove he's one of the better centers out west. I thought that at the beginning of the season and he has done nothing but solidify those thoughts. He's a go-to guy. He's a great defender. And Cam is doing a great job of playing alongside of him and in place of him.'
Fresno State (6-9, 0-2 Mountain West) had little to counter the Lobos (15-2, 2-0) inside prowess with senior forward Kevin Foster out after flying back to Florida following a death in the family.
``We knew when those two guys were in there, it was going to be a hard match up for us, especially with us not having Foster today and we had to ride our young guys,' said Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry.
New Mexico needed that production down low because leading scorer Kendall Williams sat out the game after arriving late to a team meeting on Friday. It's the third time this year Williams has been disciplined for a failure to arrive on time to games, meetings or practices.
``I've tried a lot of different things and this was the next step,' Alford said, later adding, ``When you're dealing with 18 to 22 year olds, frustration is always going to be a part of the job at some point. But you just hope guys learn lessons.'
Tony Snell added 16 points and a career-high three blocks for the Lobos.
Marvelle Harris was the only Bulldog in double digits with 11 points.
New Mexico dominated the glass, holding a 43-25 advantage. The Lobos also forced 19 turnovers, but also turned it over 16 times themselves.
The Bulldogs struggled shooting hitting 16 of 48 for the game and just 5 of 20 on 3-pointers.
``We knew it was going to be a slugfest and a grind and I really thought our guys responded well,' Alford said. ``Our offense moved well. We got the ball going inside-out. We didn't take bad shots.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved