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. Thoughts on Antonio Blakeney, shoe companies and a decommitments

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Antonio Blakeney (Nike) Antonio Blakeney (Nike)

    The five-star recruit decommitted from Louisville, and what it has to do with shoe companies.

  2. Pac-12’s conference schedule features Arizona-UCLA just once

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

    Arizona v UCLA Getty Images

    There are also a limited number of ugly road weeks.

  3. Report: Doug Wojcik’s settlement with Charleston worth six figures

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Wojcik was fired with cause for allegedly abusing his players.

  4. Top prospect in Class of 2014 signs endorsement deal with Under Armour

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

    BxqWQrkCcAAi0S1

    Mudiays $1.2 million deal with a team in China will now be significantly supplemented.

  5. Boston College point-shaving scandal portrayed in upcoming 30 for 30

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

    0216_large

    Have you ever seen ‘Goodfellas’? You’ll recognize one of the main players in this story.

  6. Mixtape of elite 2015 big man Ivan Rabb (VIDEO)

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpti1yzy1ymy3ytizody1zwrhyzfhmme2odcxyjawntbi AP

    Ivan Rabb is one of the best centers in the country.

  7. Five-star shooting guard Antonio Blakeney decommits from Louisville

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT

    Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel

    Five-star shooting guard Antonio Blakeney has opened it back up.

  8. Cincinnati adds commitment in 2015 class from forward

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    The Bearcats added a 2015 recruit on Monday night.

  9. Kansas begins Bill Self’s two-week Boot Camp

    Sep 15, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Bill Self AP

    Kansas begins a two-week Boot Camp today.

  10. Richard Pitino warns Minnesota fans not to trust his dad before Louisville opener

    Sep 15, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Billy Minardi Classic - Florida International v Louisville Getty Images

    Things are getting interesting between the Pitinos as we get closer to the Minnesota and Louisville game.

  11. Florida International’s court destroyed by exercise competition

    Sep 15, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Norfolk State v Illinois Getty Images

    Florida International had some bad luck over the weekend.

  12. Charlotte head coach Alan Major returns from medical leave of absense

    Sep 15, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - First Round - Charlotte v Richmond Getty Images

    Charlotte head coach Alan Major has returned to the team.

  13. Another mixtape for Jaylen Brown, No. 2 prospect in 2015 (VIDEO)

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Brown is a 6-foot-7 powerhouse that has drawn some comparisons to Stanley Johnson.

  14. NCAA adopts new rules philosophy regarding student-athlete support

    Sep 15, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA is trying to improve their ability to apply common sense to rules interpretations.

  15. Big Blue Nation already camping out for Big Blue Madness? (PHOTO)

    Sep 15, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

    @JenNimePalumbo @JenNimePalumbo

    They’ll be out there for six full days. To get tickets to watch a practice.

  16. USA Basketball, Mike Krzyzewski and thoughts on today’s ‘takedown’

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It was less a shot at Coach K than it was a shot at USA Basketball.