Albuquerque, NM – Alex Kirk had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the 25th-ranked New Mexico Lobos to a 76-58 win over the Mercer Bears at University Arena.
Cameron Bairstow gave 16 points and five rebounds while Tony Snell had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Lobos (7-0), who shot 45 percent to stay undefeated on the season.
"I think defensively we've seen a lot of progress," New Mexico head coach Steve Alford said. "We're not fouling. We're making things really difficult on opponents. We're taking away what we want to take away."
Travis Smith had 16 points and six rebounds while Jakob Gollon donated 10 and six for the Bears (3-4), who have dropped four of their last five games.
"I thought our bigs would be able to compete a little better," Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said.
New Mexico never trailed in the game and back-to-back 3-pointers from Snell started an 11-0 run that was capped on two free throws from Bairstow for a 19-5 advantage.
Mercer kept things from getting out of hand and baskets from T.J. Hallice and Smith cut its deficit to 31-22 going into the halftime break.
A pair of free throws from Smith 8 1/2 minutes into the second half cut the Bears' deficit to 44-38, but Demetrius Walker followed with a 3-point play and Nick Banyard drained a bucket to get the advantage back to double digits.
Hallice then hit a free throw and Gollon put in a layup to make it a 49-41 game, but Mercer didn't get another point for the next five minutes while New Mexico scored 14 straight for a 63-41 lead after Kirk capped the run on a layup and free throw with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
The lead got up to 29 as New Mexico cruised to the finish.
New Mexico has won all three matchups against Mercer. This was the first contest between these two schools since 2000 ... Mercer shot just 37.9 percent in the game ... The Lobos dominated the boards, 40-27 ... New Mexico plays at Indiana State on Saturday.