Sean Kilpatrick had two options: Take the quick shot if it's there, drive to the basket if it's not. He caught the pass and thought he had...
CINCINNATI — Sean Kilpatrick had two options: Take the quick shot if it’s there, drive to the basket if it’s not. He caught the pass and thought he had just enough room to get the shot off.
He never saw Alex Kirk’s hand coming.
Kirk scored 15 points and blocked 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 three-pointer, got a team-high seven rebounds and slapped away Kilpatrick’s jumper in the final seconds. Kilpatrick passed it in from the baseline to center Cheikh Mbodj with 4.5 seconds left, then got the ball right back.
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“I thought I had him,” Kilpatrick said. “I could have drove, but I didn’t.”
Kirk figured Cincinnati’s top scorer was going to let it fly.
“I knew if I went out, it would be pretty difficult for him to get a shot over me and Tony Snell,” Kirk said.
That’s how Cincinnati’s perfect record went away.
Cincinnati (12-1) moved up to No. 8 this week — its highest ranking in nine years — and was trying to go 13-0 for the sixth time in school history.
The Lobos have won six of their last seven games against ranked teams and are 14-6 vs. top-25 teams under coach Steve Alford.