March 5, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Seniors Cameron Bairstow and Kendall Williams put on a show in their final home game for No. 21 New Mexico, combining for 34 points Wednesday night to lead the Lobos to an 80-52 victory over Air Force.
Bairstow finished with 21 points and seven rebounds and Williams had 13 points for New Mexico (24-5, 15-2 Mountain West).
Leading 27-20, the Lobos closed the first half on a 7-0 run capped by a buzzer-beating dunk from Alex Kirk on an inbounds play for a 34-20 lead.
The Falcons (11-17, 5-12) shot 34.5 percent from the field (19 for 55), with leading scorer Tre' Coggins going 3 for 13 while scoring 11 points. Justin Hammonds also scored 11 points, nine coming in the first half.New Mexico's scrambling defense prevented Air Force from getting into its patient, half-court offense and limited the Falcons' ability to establish the backdoor cuts that are the basis of the offense.
"They pressured," Pilipovich said. "They switched everything. We knew that was going to happen. We just didn't play through the switches as well as we normally do. Their ball pressure, their size. And when we did get to the rim, they got shot blockers back there to block shots. . We knew they were there, but we've got the shot blockers in our mind and we missed some uncontested layups. It had so much to do with their execution."
New Mexico had 10 steals and forced 17 turnovers.
"Our guys are really getting locked in on the scouting reports," New Mexico coach Craig Neal said. "They're really locked in on what we're trying to take away and what we don't want to give up. They did everything we wanted them to do in the first half and the second half."
The defensive effort helped make up for New Mexico's early struggles offensively, Neal said.
"I thought we had little jitters to start off," he said. "Kendall and Cam, emotionally, it's a tough deal. Going down that ramp the last time and doing the things they've done here. So we didn't get off to the greatest of starts, even though we were up 14 at half."