Skip to content

Play of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow a step in the right direction for New Mexico

Dec 28, 2012, 9:15 AM EDT

Justin Jackson, Alex Kirk AP

Entering the 2012-13 season, interior play was a major concern for the New Mexico Lobos. On the heels of a season that saw them win both a share of the Mountain West regular season title and the league’s automatic bid, few had any idea what Steve Alford would do to make up for the loss of Drew Gordon.

Alex Kirk sat out all of last season due to a back injury, leaving many to doubt if the 7-foot sophomore could have a significant impact for a team that ranks among the best on the perimeter.

Kirk’s performance on Thursday night in the Lobos’ 55-54 win at No. 8 Cincinnati was another step towards answering those preseason questions, and it’s one the Lobos will need to see more of once they begin Mountain West play.

Kirk was very productive in his 29 minutes on the floor last night, tallying 15 points (6-of-8 shooting), seven rebounds and three blocked shots while Cameron Bairstow added seven points and six rebounds for a UNM front court that outplayed Cincinnati’s big men.

Justin Jackson and Cheikh Mbodj did manage to combine to grab 18 rebounds but they scored just four points, all by Mbodj, and as a team Cincinnati shot a horrid 9-of-38 on two-point shots with most of the attempts being of the challenged variety.

Those issues, especially the lack of offense from their big men, should have Bearcat fans concerned while the performance of New Mexico’s big men will be seen as a positive on the heels of their loss to South Dakota State on Saturday.

“It’s about not quitting,” said Alford following the game. “We probably did an average job of blocking them out, probably could have done a better job on block outs, but what I appreciated about our guys is that when they did get the offensive rebounds they didn’t stop.

“When you watch them on tape, they get offensive rebounds and dunk. They didn’t get too many dunks tonight.”

One of the nation’s best teams in regards to offensive rebounding, Cincinnati did manage to grab 16 offensive boards. But they didn’t take advantage of those second-chance opportunities, as New Mexico finished the game with a 14-7 advantage in second-chance points.

On a night that saw both Tony Snell (4-of-15 shooting) and Kendall Williams (five turnovers) struggle to varying degrees, New Mexico was able to pick up a big road victory thanks to their defense and the performance of their big men.

And with far more productive big men awaiting New Mexico (two points, four rebounds) in Mountain West play (UNLV’s surplus of big men, Colorado State’s Colton Iverson and Wyoming’s Leonard Washington immediately come to mind), Thursday’s performance was an important one.

Because even with the talented guards they have, a productive Kirk and Bairstow make New Mexico a player in the Mountain West race.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Ohio senior forward contributes to Senegal’s first FIBA worlds victory since 1998

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT

    Maurice Ndour AP

    The second team All-MAC selection scored eight points in Senegal’s win over Puerto Rico.

  2. In-state forward becomes Kansas State’s second commitment in four days

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    Bruce Weber now has three verbal commitments in the Class of 2015.

  3. Nebraska lands commitment from four-star point guard

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT

    Tim Miles AP

    5-foot-11 point guard Glynn Watson becomes Nebraska’s second 2015 commitment.

  4. Five-star 2015 small forward cuts list to six schools

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Slender forward Brandon Ingram is one of the best perimeter prospects in the Class of 2015.

  5. Illinois native becomes Tennessee’s first 2015 commitment

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Tennessee is on the board in 2015 due to the addition of a versatile 6-foot-5 forward.

  6. North Carolina accepts their head coach’s challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:23 PM EDT

    Marcus Paige AP

    Roy Williams challenged his players in the Bahamas, and the accepted it on Saturday afternoon.

  7. Malik Newman to narrow list soon, won’t announce until after season

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:39 PM EDT

    Malik Newman (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Malik Newman is the No. 3 overall recruit, according to Rivals.

  8. Twin brothers commit to Quinnipiac

    Aug 31, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Quinnipiac Athletics Quinnipiac Athletics

    The Robinson brothers are the first two commits in Quinnipiac’s Class of 2015.

  9. Four-star guard New Williams commits to Bruce Pearl and Auburn

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Bruce Pearl has landed five commitments in 10 days.

  10. The dunks you didn’t see from the Under Armour Elite 24 (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    More dunks from one of the best all-star games of the summer.

  11. Head coach’s son becomes Iowa’s first 2017 commitment

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    mccaffery Getty Images

    Connor McCaffery was expected to play for his father, and he announced the intention to do so Saturday.

  12. Four-star shooting guard to announce decision September 5

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT

    Jorge Lopez/Nike Jorge Lopez/Nike

    The Floridian averaged 26 points per game as a high school junior.

  13. SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    SMU v Memphis Getty Images

    Yanick Moreira missed time last season due to injury, so this month could prove incredibly valuable for both he and the SMU program he’ll rejoin.

  14. Providence’s non-conference slate headlined by Kentucky, four ACC foes

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Providence is looking to reach consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

  15. Junior college guard verbally commits to Western Kentucky

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Franklin Edmond averaged 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.

  16. Two Auburn players taking indefinite leave of absence

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    After a big recruiting week for Auburn, two players from the current roster are leaving the program.

  17. Cincinnati announces non-conference schedule

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    Cincinnati has some tough opponents in the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 schedule.

  18. Utah State forward granted sixth year of eligibility by NCAA

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Stew Morrill AP

    Utah State returns a veteran locker-room presence.

  19. Providence adds late 2014 commitment to bolster guard depth

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Providence added another piece for the 2014-15 season late this week.