NCAA BK

Alex Kirk leads No. 25 New Mexico over Fresno St

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)

Fresno State coach Rodney Terry has taken his squad to face some pretty tough teams.

But none handled his Bulldogs the way No. 25 New Mexico did Saturday in a 72-45 decision.

The Lobos (15-2, 2-0 Mountain West) polished off the first half with a 16-2 run to take a 39-22 lead at halftime.

And that was essentially the ballgame, Terry said. ''They had a great spurt there and we didn't do a great job of taking care of the basketball,'' he said. ''We didn't do a great job of getting back and getting our defense set. We had a couple of guys in man and a couple of guys in zone. And they exploited that. They took advantage of it. And they made those plays and they closed out the half on a really good run. We never recovered from that.''

Fresno State (6-9, 0-2) was nearly defenseless against the interior power game of Lobos Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow, who combined for 35 points and 19 rebounds.

Especially minus veteran power forward Kevin Foster, who returned to Florida after 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,'' Terry said.

And those guys got taken to task.

''You can talk about a difficult environment to play in but our freshmen, they grew today a little bit,'' Terry said. ''They had some growing pains in a tough place to play against a really good team.''

The younger Bulldogs were unable to match up physically with New Mexico, he said.

''We really try to challenge our young guys to understand the physicality of this league and what's going to take,'' Terry said.

Marvelle Harris scored 11 points to lead the Bulldogs in scoring, but he was the only one in double figures.

Fresno State managed to shoot just 16 for 48 and went 5 for 20 on 3-pointers. New Mexico dominated the glass, holding a 43-25 advantage. The Lobos also forced 19 turnovers, but also turned it over 16 times themselves.

New Mexico was just the second team to top 70 points on the Bulldogs this season and their point total was just two above their lowest of the season.

''They're one of the best teams we've played,'' Terry said. ''They're the best team we've played. We've played some good teams that are really playing well and I'd put these guys right up there with all those guys.''

Tagged: Fresno State, New Mexico

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