No. 12 New Mexico 92, Air Force 59
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Kenny Thomas had 24 points and 10 rebounds and No. 12 New Mexico came up with a season-high 14 steals Saturday in a 92-59 win over Air Force.
Thomas’ muscle inside and the Lobos’ athleticism everywhere else broke open the Western Athletic Conference opener early in the second half.
New Mexico (10-1 1-0) scored the final seven points of the first half for a 41-34 lead, and Clayton Shields’ seven straight points in the first 90 seconds of the second half made the deficit too much for the cold-shooting Falcons to overcome.
The Lobos shot a season high 61.7 percent, while holding Air Force 25 points below their season average. Falcon guard Jarmica Reese, averaging 24 points a game, was in foul trouble much of the second half and finished with 11 points.
Air Force (6-3, 0-1) has never beaten New Mexico in The Pit and is now 0-18. The win stretched New Mexico’s homecourt winning streak to 35 games, second longest in the nation behind Kansas’ 52 straight wins at Allen Field House.
A 3-pointer by Reese with 7:20 left in the first half gave Air Force a 25-20 lead, but New Mexico scored the next 10 points. Lamont Long, playing with a sprained right wrist, scored six of them with a trio of layups.
Long, who scored all 11 of his points in the first half, snapped a 34-all tie with a 3-pointer with 1:39 left in the first half and Thomas and Shields finished the half with back-to-back layups.
New Mexico’s trapping defense early in the second half created several turnovers that the Lobos converted into layups.
Louis Stewart was the high scorer for Air Force with 12 points and the Falcons hit just 9 of 25 second-half shots.