Sophomore guard Hugh Greenwood hit a pair of timely thee-pointers in overtime and the nationally-ranked New Mexico Lobos outscored the host Indiana St. Sycamores 13-4 in overtime as UNM escaped Terre Haute, Ind. with a 77-68 overtime victory before 6,080 at ISU’s Hulman Center to keep the Lobos undefeated.
"We're a gritty bunch. Our guys are grinding it like crazy," said UNM head coach Steve Alford. "We got stagnant in the second half. But this was a really good win for us and we have a huge week next week."
New Mexico (8-0, 23rd in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and 25th in the Associated Press poll) led by as many as 19 in the second half but Indiana State (4-2) battled back behind the play of Jake Odom, who scored 23 of his game-high 25 points in the second half comeback.
Kendall Williams scored a career-high 24 points for UNM, most of the scoring coming in the first half as New Mexico took the game over with a pair of 9-0 runs keyed by Williams’ offense and the Lobos’ stingy defense to take a 33-19 halftime lead.
"Kendall (Williams) does what Kendall does," said Alford. "He's a big-time player and we need him today because Tony (Snell) and Demetrius (Walker) never got going."
The Lobos looked to be able to escape in regulation when Williams drew a foul with 14 seconds left in the game and UNM up 64-62. But the junior guard missed both free throws and Odom raced back after the second miss and tied the game 64-64 on a lay up with two seconds left.
Odom’s lay up capped a 7-2 Sycamores run to end the game triggered by a trey from Justin Gant.
In overtime, Greenwood asserted himself. The Aussie hit a three pointer on UNM’s first possession of the extra period then Tony Snell added a jumper as the Lobos started on a 5-0 run to seize the initiative an the lead at 69-64. After an ISU basket, Greenwood hit a tough shot inside the lane then capped the run with a trey following a lay in by Manny Arop to give UNM a 74-68 advantage. Chad Adams then made 3 of 4 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
"Hugh hadn't made a shot all night and then he steps up and makes two threes in overtime," said Alford. "Chad (Adams) did some big things for us and I thought that was key. This was a really good win for us."
Greewood scored 14 and pulled in nine rebounds while Adams registered a double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling in 10 rebounds wile shooting 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Center Alex Kirk added 10 points and 4 rebounds while Cameron Bairstow came off the bench to add eight points and 11 rebounds.
The Lobos outrebounded Indiana State 44-37, 34 -28 on the defensive glass, though the Sycamores outscored UNM in the paint 30-24, mostly on drives by Odom.
Many Arop added 17 points and 10 rebounds for ISU and Dawon Cummings scored 10 points. The Sycamores bench outscored New Mexico’s reserved 17-10.
New Mexico turned the ball over 13 times compared the Sycamores 11 but outscored ISU 17-9 in points off turnovers.
UNM shot a paltry 5- of 25 (205) in the second half after shooting 50% (13 of 26) in the first half to finish with 22 of 57 (38.6%) shooting. ISU reversed that trend shooting 13 of 25 (52%) in the second half after shooting just 8 of 27 (29.6%) in the first half. The Sycamores finished with 23 of 59 shooting (39%).
The real difference came in free throw shooting as ISU shot just 18 of 30 (60%), missing many front ends of 1-on-1 opportunities as the Sycamores got UNM into foul trouble early in the second half and paraded to the line often. The Lobos by contrast hit 28 of 34 (82%).