Teddy Buckets: New Mexico State upsets UConn 70-63 in NCAA | Sports News
By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Sports Journalist
BUFFALO, NY (AP) — New Mexico State coach Chris Jans was in the hallway of KeyBank Center preparing for his pre-game speech as Richmond celebrated the first win of the day with a seeded No. 12 in a nearby locker room.
“I stopped and looked at them. It gave me chills to think what it would do for us,” he said. “I was really, really hoping we would feel that too.”
The Aggies did just that.
Teddy Allen scored 37 points and New Mexico State won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in nearly three decades, upsetting fifth-seeded Connecticut 70-63 Thursday night to become the second seed. No. 12 to come out of the first round.
The Aggies (27-6) will face fourth-seeded Arkansas on Saturday in the West Region. In their 23rd NCAA appearance, the Aggies won for the first time since beating Syracuse in the first round in 1993.
“I know our fan base hasn’t been hungry for it,” said Jans, who is in his fifth season at the Las Cruces school. “They were hungry for it.”
New Mexico State had not returned to upstate New York since beating Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. In Buffalo, Allen and the Aggies created another memory.
Allen hit a Rainbow 3 off the dribble with 1:40 left in the second half to give New Mexico State a 61-58 lead.
“I don’t really need to feel like I’m out of a zone,” Allen said. “That’s how I play.”
He hadn’t finished. After RJ Cole (20 points) cut the lead to one for UConn (23-10), Allen returned to work.
“I’m a hoop, and right now at the level I’m at is the biggest step, and it’s going to be the worst time to fold,” Allen said.
The 6-foot-6 junior drove hard to the basket and brought it home while drawing a foul. He jumped off the floor and raced to the sideline to flex for the Aggies fans before finishing the game on three points for a 66-60 lead with 27 seconds left.
“The types of shots he hits, some of them were out of control,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said.
The Western Athletic Conference champions followed the tournament’s first 5-12 loss on the floor. After Richmond knocked out Big Ten champion Iowa, New Mexico State came out on top against the Big East Huskies.
Hurley called Allen a “bucket” the day before his side faced the widely traveled goalscorer.
Transfer from West Virginia (and Wichita State, Nebraska and Junior College) made it a heap against UConn after starting the game 0 for 6.
Allen made his next five to lead a 12-2 final run that put the Aggies up 32-22 at halftime. He ended up taking nearly half of New Mexico State’s 50 shots (24).
“He’s a bad shooter and a bad shooter,” Jans said.
The Aggies increased their lead to 14 early in the second half. UConn slowly recovered and tied 52 with 5:08 remaining. But the Huskies never led in the second half.
“We knew it was going to be a really, really tough game,” Hurley said. “They obviously had a performance from Teddy Allen today that sent us home.”
Allen was 4-for-7 and 13-for-13 on free throws.
“This man is a bucket,” Aggies forward Jimmy McCants said.
New Mexico State: The Aggies more than held off UConn on the glass, outscoring the Huskies 26-25.
Allen said Jans told the team this game would prove if the Aggies were a soft team.
“I just wanted to come out and prove we’re not soft,” said Allen, who also had six rebounds.
UConn: Adama Sanogo, the Huskies’ second leading scorer, has never been inside. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds on 4-of-9 shooting.
It’s the sixth time in the last 12 NCAA tournaments that more than a No. 12 seed has come out of the first round.
New Mexico State will try to win two games in an NCAA tournament for the first time since 1970.
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