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Kirk blocks final shot, preserving New Mexico's 55-54 win over No. 8 Cincinnati

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    Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick (23) goes up for a shot against New Mexico center Alex Kirk (53) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)The Associated Press

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    Cincinnati forward Justin Jackson (5) and New Mexico center Alex Kirk (53) go for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)The Associated Press

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    Cincinnati guard JaQuon Parker (44) drives against New Mexico guard Tony Snell (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)The Associated Press

Alex Kirk scored 15 points and blocked Sean Kilpatrick's shot just before the buzzer Thursday night, preserving New Mexico's 55-54 win that handed No. 8 Cincinnati its first loss.

New Mexico (13-1) rallied in the second half behind its 7-foot center, who hit a 3-pointer, got a team-high seven rebounds and slapped away Kilpatrick's jumper off an inbounds play.

Cincinnati (12-1) moved up to No. 8 this week — its highest ranking in nine years — and was trying to go 13-0 for only sixth time in school history. The Bearcats couldn't salvage a tight game against a team known for knocking off top teams.

The Lobos have won six of their last seven games against ranked teams, leaving them 14-6 against the Top 25 during coach Steve Alford's six seasons.

Kirk scored nine of his 15 points in the second half and led a surge that gave the Lobos their first lead. Kilpatrick had 15 points, but was only 5 of 22 from the field.