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New Mexico cruises past Air Force

Mar 6, 2014 - 7:30 AM Albuquerque, NM ( - Cameron Bairstow tallied 21 points and seven rebounds as the 21st-ranked New Mexico Lobos routed Air Force, 80-52, on Wednesday from The Pit.

Kendall Williams added 13 points while Cleveland Thomas and Alex Kirk each posted 10 as New Mexico (24-5, 15-2 Mountain West) will head into its regular season finale showdown with San Diego State riding a six-game winning streak.

Tre' Coggins and Justin Hammonds netted 11 points apiece as Air Force (11-17, 5-12) dropped its second straight tilt and 10th in the last 12. The Falcons host Boise State on Saturday.

Williams gave the home Senior Night crowd something to cheer about right off the bat, canning a triple just 19 seconds into the contest. Midway through the period, a pair of Thomas free throws capped an 8-0 run and put the Lobos in front, 20-7.

Air Force pulled back within seven points three times late in the first half but never got over the hump. Kirk's jam right before the halftime buzzer highlighted a 7-0 surge to end the frame and had UNM in front, 34-20, at halftime.

"I thought we had the jitters to start us off. I thought Kendall and Cam, emotionally, it's a tough deal, going down that ramp the last time and doing some things that they've done here. So we didn't get off to the greatest of starts, even though we were up 14 at half," said New Mexico coach Craig Neal.

The hosts shot 60 percent and dominated the second half, going up 54-34 at the midway point on another Kirk dunk.

With the game well in hand in the closing moments, senior walk-on Chris Perez, who started the contest but was removed less than a minute in, converted a layup for his only points of the season.

Game Notes

New Mexico has won 12 of 13 games ... The Lobos improved to 32-3 all-time against Air Force at The Pit ... UNM outscored Air Force 34-24 in the paint.