NCAA BK

Crutcher scores 17, Ala. A&M loses to N. Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)

Jeremy Crutcher had a solid game against No. 23 New Mexico. However, he didn't get much help from his Alabama A&M teammates in their season opener.

Crutcher had 17 points as the only Bulldogs player in double figures in an 88-52 loss to the Lobos on Saturday night. He shot 6 for 12 from the field, including 4 for 9 on 3-pointers. The rest of the team was 9 for 44 overall, including 4 for 23 from beyond the arc.

''Jeremy did a good job on his 3s, but we need to get other guys hitting,'' Alabama A&M coach Willie Hayes said.

Cameron Bairstow had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Alex Kirk added 16 points and 12 rebounds for New Mexico (1-0).

Alabama A&M (0-1) couldn't control New Mexico's interior players as the Lobos jumped out to a 10-0 lead then stretched it to 21-3 with Bairstow contributing eight points in the stretch.

The lead didn't drop below 15 the rest of the way.

''I thought it would be a good test because they had 11 guys coming back, veteran guys,'' new Lobos coach Craig Neal said of the Bulldogs. ''I just thought we pushed the tempo in the first half but once we got to a certain number I just didn't see any reason to push the tempo again.''

While Neal wants to play a fast style, he didn't want to push it too far.

''I respect him and I think he's a good coach,'' Neal said of his counterpart. ''When you're up a certain number, we could have pressed a lot more in the second half. But that's not me.''

Kendall Williams added 17 points and seven assists for New Mexico (1-0) and Cullen Neal, son of the head coach, finished with 12 in his college debut. Bairstow shot 9 for 10 from the field and Kirk was 7 for 13.

New Mexico pounded it inside early, getting Bairstow and Kirk going, then it went to the outside game.

''Any time you get your post guys doing that, it's going to open up the perimeter,'' Hayes said. ''Then you can go inside-out and that's what they did.''

Demarquelle Tabb, who was the A&M's leading scorer last year, finished eight, with six of those coming from the line.

''They're a good team,'' Hayes said of New Mexico. ''They have size. They shoot the ball.''

New Mexico shot the ball at a 58.5-percent clip, while the Bulldogs managed just 26.8 percent.

Although the Bulldogs didn't up much resistance, Hayes said it's a game that will be beneficial.

''This is going to help us as the season progresses,'' he said. ''It shows you a bit of what you have to get better. We have to get better at rebounding.''

New Mexico had a 48-27 rebounding edge and had 16 second-chance points.

Tagged: Alabama, Alabama A&M, New Mexico, Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Jeremy Crutcher

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