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 3-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 with the two options.
"I thought I had him," Kilpatrick said. "I could have drove, but I didn't."
Kirk figured that Cincinnati's top scorer was going to let it fly and managed to get there just as the ball left his hands.
"I knew if I went out, it would be pretty difficult for him to get a shot over me and Tony Snell," Kirk said. "I went out with my hands up and he was forced to take a tough shot. Luckily, I got my hand on it."
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 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. They beat Connecticut earlier this season.
Cincinnati's loss left Duke, Michigan, Arizona and Wyoming as the only unbeaten teams in Division I.
The Bearcats missed 21 shots inside the paint and shot 31.3 percent from the field. Kilpatrick had a team-high 15 points, but was only 5 of 22 from the field.
"Things have been too easy for us," Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. "We were going to get taught a lesson sooner or later. It manifests itself in many ways. Our inside finishing is beyond soft. You hold a team to 55 points, you should be able to win the game."