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Saah Nimley stars in Charleston Southern's loss

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November 17, 2013 10:25 PM EST | AP

ALBUQERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Saah Nimley stands 5-foot-8. The Charleston Southern point guard still came up big against No. 22 New Mexico.

Nimley had 24 points and 12 assists in the Buccaneers' 109-93 loss to the Lobos on Sunday.

"I like the way they play," New Mexico coach Craig Neal said. "They've got really good guards and the little guy can play and he's got a big heart."

Buccaneers coach Barclay Radebaugh knows he has something special in Nimley.

"Saah Nimley, pound for pound, is the best point guard in the country," Radebaugh said. "I didn't say he's the best point guard in the country. I said pound for pound, inch for inch, you won't find a better undersized point guard in America than Saah."

Nimley helped spark Charleston Southern (2-2) in the second half after the Lobos (2-0) opened a 31-point lead at 82-51.

In the half, he had 16 points and eight assists and went 9 for 9 from the foul line.

"In the second half, I think our guys got very lackadaisical," Neal said. "And they just kept putting that little guy on the line. It's hard to guard him with the way the rules are the way they are."

Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk stood tall for the Lobos.

Bairstow scored a career-high 29 points, and Kirk had 24 points and 13 rebounds.

"I thought their size was a significant difference in the game," Radebaugh said. "I thought they executed extremely well. They're a very good team. They're a legitimate top-20, top-15 team. And certainly their size presented us with a lot of problems."

The two big men each went 9 for 13 from the field. Kirk added five blocks, and Bairstow drew 10 fouls and went 11 for -16 from the line.

"I'm really proud of the way Bairstow and Kirk played," Neal said.

Kendall Williams had 20 points and 10 assists for the Lobos.

Charleston Southern led 21-19 following a 3-pointer from Arlon Harper to cap an 11-4 run. But Bairstow started a 9-0 burst with a dunk. The Lobos were up 35-29 with 7 minutes left in the first half before using a 15-3 run that included five points from Bairstow to take control.

They never let the lead dip below double figures the rest of the game.