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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, February 07, 2013 1:03 am

No. 15 New Mexico topples Air Force 81-58

The Associated Press

Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich knew his Falcons would have to play well inside to have any shot against New Mexico.

The Falcons just couldn't match the Lobos interior game, falling 81-58 to the 15th-ranked team Wednesday night.

"Their size hurt us," he said. "Their offensive rebounding and their strength and length and size on the glass. Their inside scoring. The things that we knew coming in that we had to take away, we just didn't do as well as we needed to put ourselves into a position to win the game."

New Mexico outrebounded Air Force 39-24, including grabbing 13 offensive rebounds.

"They wore us down and they were able to use their size to their advantage," Pilipovich said. "It felt like maybe we had a run and had them backed up a little bit. But we had to take advantage of that and maybe we exhausted it there. We didn't have anything left."

Kendall Williams had 11 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals for the 15th-ranked Lobos (20-3, 7-1 Mountain West)

"He's our guy," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. "He recognizes the change in defenses. I thought he was vocal tonight. Maybe at times a little too vocal. But that's when Kendall is at his best. I thought he just led our team really well. He did a lot of good things."

Air Force (14-7, 5-3) used a 9-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Kyle Green with 9:15 remaining to cut the lead to 57-51.

But New Mexico went on a 14-1 spurt, with the Falcons' only point coming when Todd Fletcher converted one of two foul shots following a technical after a brief confrontation between the coaching staffs at midcourt.

"The exchange of coaches came because we heard an assistant talk to one of our guys," Alford said. "I'm not going to sit back and let that happen. That kind of made things get a little escalated and heated."

New Mexico finished its burst scoring eight straight points.

"I think it was really to our benefit," Alford said of the confrontation. "I'm not sure that the score was before that exchange but after that exchange, it was very good play on our part."

Mike Fitzgerald and Michael Lyons each scored 16 points for the Falcons.