LAS VEGAS (AP) - Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk each scored 21 points to lead No. 20 New Mexico to a 93-77 victory over Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference tournament Thursday night.
Using an aggressive defense, dominating the boards and capitalizing on the Bulldogs' mistakes, the second-seeded Lobos built a 16-point lead and extended it to as many as 19 in the second half.
"We played I think one of the better teams in the country today," Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said of the Lobos. "The way they played today in terms of the way they came out with the mindset to start the ballgame, they got off to a really good start. They're a team that cannot only advance in this tournament and have a chance to win this tournament, but go a long way in the NCAA tournament."
New Mexico (25-6) outrebounded the seventh-seeded Bulldogs 40-25, and outscored Fresno in the paint, 42-20. The Lobos never trailed after opening the game on a 14-3 run.
Despite getting in foul trouble early, Bairstow also had 10 rebounds and three blocks. Kendall Williams chipped in with 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
The Lobos, who won the first meeting in similar fashion, 89-78 on Jan. 18, shot 57 percent from the field - including 61 percent in the second half. The Bulldogs struggled from the field, shooting just 40 percent (25 of 63)
After the Bulldogs came within six, the teams traded baskets until the Lobos used a 15-7 run to close the half and extend their lead to 49-35.
New Mexico will face the winner of Thursday's late game between Nevada and Boise State, in a Friday semifinal.
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