New Mexico Lobos Men’s Basketball – At Kansas City Shootout
Saturday: Kansas 80, New Mexico 63
Tuesday: New Mexico State at New Mexico
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.
It was a tale of two halves and a tale of two Lobos, who needed a little more help on the scoreboard, but did not get it Saturday night in the Kansas City Shootout.
“If people hadn’t seen Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams, they got a good look at them tonight,” said Lobo Coach Craig Neal.
New Mexico got 24 points from both Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams, trailed by only a point at the half, before the Kansas Jayhawks upped their defense and their intensity to run to an 80-63 win Saturday in Kansas City.
A key blow for the Lobos came in the first half when 7-foot Alex Kirk picked up two quick fouls, played only three minutes in that half, and never regained his rhythm under the basket. Kansas got rhythm from a lot of Jayhawks including 7-foot freshman Joel Embiid, who scored a career-high 18 points.
“He could never get going,” Neal said of Kirk. “We are going to have a hard time winning ball games if Alex plays 18 minutes and has those numbers.”
Kirk finished with five points, five rebounds and five fouls. UNM got eight points off a bench that went 2-of-14 from the floor.
“I’m proud of the guys and their effort. We played hard,” said Neal. “We have to get some scoring off the bench and get some guys to make some plays off the bench and help us.”
Kansas had four players in double figures and also out rebounded UNM 36-30. The Jayhawks shot 51.9 percent from the field to 33.3 percent for UNM. The Lobos went 2-of-14 from 3-point range. UNM went 25-of-29 from the free-throw line. Kansas went 19-of-26 to keep the line from becoming much of a factor.
The Jayhawks won the battle in the paint with 38 points in that zone. UNM scored 24 inside. Naadir Tharpe had nine assists for Kansas. Embiid had four blocks and three steals. Kansas’ Perry Ellis had 21 points and Andrew Wiggins had 11 points.
“I thought that’s the best (Kansas) played offensively all year,” said Neal of the Jayhawks, who shot better than 50 percent in each half. “They didn’t have a lot of misses in the second half.
“It was just one of those things where we couldn’t get anything going. We didn’t have any rhythm. I wish we could have shot the ball a little bit better. We missed some easy shots. I never thought we’d score (only) 25 points in a half. We had good looks.”
The Lobos fell behind early in the second half, but closed to 63-58 on a four-point play by Williams. Kansas used a 17-5 run to finish the half and snap the Jayhawks’ two-game losing skid.
The Lobos return to The Pit Tuesday night to battle the New Mexico State Aggies.
Second Half: Kansas 41, New Mexico 25
The Jayhawks came out of their locker room guarding a 39-38 lead and threw out a 10-2 run to go up 49-40. Coach Neal burned a timeout. At the 15:05 media break, Kansas was up 51-42 with UNM scoring on a running, left-handed hook by Bairstow and Kansas scoring on a lob dunk to 7-0 freshman Joel Embiid.
Kansas got its biggest lead of the game up to that point 53-42 with Embiid scoring underneath with a reverse layup. It went to 55-42 on an Ellis drive. UNM got two at the line from Williams and layup by Kirk to pull to 55-46. At the 11:57 mark, UNM was down 56-46.
Williams hit a trey and was fouled and added one to cut Kansas’ lead to 63-58. The Jayhawks then ran to a 70-59 lead going under six minutes to play. An Ellis dunk made it 72-59 and Coach Neal again asked for a timeout and called his team into a huddle.
At the 3:14 media break, Embiid had scored inside over Kirk to produce a 74-59 Kansas lead. The Jayhawks pulled away for the 17-point victory using a 17-5 run to finish the half.
First Half: Kansas 39, New Mexico 38
The bad news for the Lobos in the first half was they got only three minutes of playing time out of Kirk, who went to the bench early with two fouls. The good news is UNM got big halves from Bairstow and Williams and only trailed by a point at the break.
Bairstow led all scorers with 16 and Williams added 12 points. Wiggins paced Kansas with 10 points. UNM shot 37.5 percent in the half and Kansas fired at a 50 percent clip. The teams were even on the boards with 18 each. UNM went 13-of-15 from the free-throw line and Kansas went 8-of-11. The Jayhawks had five turnovers and UNM had three.
The Jayhawks took an early 8-4 lead, but Bairstow led a UNM charge and hit a bucket to push the Lobos up 14-10. Kansas then went on a 10-to-4 run to go up 24-18 with 7:15 to play. The Jayhawks were benefiting from Kirk sitting on the UNM bench with two fouls.
The Lobos came back behind Williams. The senior drove with his left hand, floated in a short jumper and added a point at the free-throw line to pull UNM to 26-25. Williams came back with a trey to form a 28-28 tie at 4:32.
Cullen Neal used the line to give UNM a 32-31 lead going under the three-minute mark. Bairstow got one at the line to form a 34-34 tie before Kansas ended up with a one-point lead after 20 minutes.
New Mexico stats and facts
Streaks and Trends
* New Mexico has now hit a three-point shot in 737 consecutive games. The last without a make was when UNM went 0-for-8 on January 3, 1991 against Colorado State.
*UNM’s eight assists was a season-low. The previous low was 10 against Cincinnati.
*UNM was outrebounded 36-30.
* The Lobos trailed at the half 39-38. UNM is 7-0 when leading at the break, and they are now 0-2 when trailing at the half.
*UNM led for just 4:23 of the game, and Kansas led for the final 22:24.
*The 33.3 percent that UNM shot from the field was a season low (18-for-54). Previously, UNM shot 34.1 against UAB (going 31-for-91, the 91 being a Mountain West record for attempts.
Head Coach Craig Neal
* Craig Neal is now 7-2 as a head coach with New Mexico, and he is 1-1 on the road.
Senior F Cameron Bairstow
* Bairstow scored 24 points. Over his last five games he is averaging 20.2 points per game, and he has three straight 20-point games to his credit.
Senior G Kendall Williams
* Moved past Lamont Long for 11th place in career three-pointers attempted with 412 as he went 2-for-5 in the game. Lamont Long had 410 over his career.
*Williams has scored in double-figures in all nine games this season after scoring 24 against Kansas.
RS Junior C Alex Kirk
* Finished without a double-double for a third straight game after opening the season with six straight. First half foul trouble limited him to five points and five rebounds. He fouled out with 2:53 to go in the game.