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Lobos Able To Fend Off OSU’s Late Rally

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OKLAHOMA CITY — ’Tis the season to give.

And take back, as far as the New Mexico men’s basketball team is concerned.

For the second straight week, the Lobos (8-2) gave away all of a 13-point lead, then regrouped late to grab a win away from home. On Saturday, they won their sixth straight contest by downing Oklahoma State 66-56 in the All-College Classic.

“It was very similar to last week,” UNM coach Steve Alford said referring to the Lobos’ 44-41 win a week earlier at Southern Cal. “We lead almost the whole game, lose the lead, then show a lot of resolve again. And to do that away from home, that’s the thing that has impressed me most with this team.”

The game was part of a four-team, one-night doubleheader put on by ESPN. (Oklahoma took a 79-74 win against Houston in the opening game.)

At least three-fourths of UNM’s game was televised.

ESPN2 didn’t get to the contest until there were less than 10 minutes left in the first half, as it was televising the championship match of the NCAA volleyball tournament between victorious UCLA and Illinois.

Lobo fans didn’t miss much as UNM spotted the Cowboys (6-4) a 21-15 lead to that point.

Once the TV cameras turned on, so did New Mexico.

The last 10 minutes of the first half were as good as it gets for UNM, which went on a 12-0 run for a 27-21 lead that grew to 36-26 at the break. Oklahoma State went more than eight minutes without a field goal, missing 13 straight shots at one point and finishing the half 8-of-32 from the floor.

The Lobos, meanwhile, got a big boost from the bench, as Jamal Fenton and Cameron Bairstow combined for nine straight points.

“That’s my role, to be a spark,” said Fenton, who had a season-high 10 points in 15 minutes of play. “I was just doing my role, being a team player.”

New Mexico upped the margin to 41-28 early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Kendall Williams and looked ready to coast when it was up 44-33 with less than 15 minutes remaining.

Problem was, the Lobos, too, thought they were coasting.

OSU’s only senior to play, guard Keiton Page, then knocked down three straight shots — including two 3s — and the Cowboys cut it to 47-46.

After the Lobos upped it to 52-46, the Cowboys went on a 7-0 run to lead 53-52 with 7:25 remaining on a 3-pointer from Jean-Paul Olukemi.

That would be O-State’s last field goal of the night.

Senior post Drew Gordon — who had 13 points and 20 rebounds and was named the player of the game despite being 4-of-14 from the field — hit a pair of free throws to put the Lobos back in front before freshman point guard Hugh Greenwood took over.

The 6-foot-3 Aussie scored the Lobos’ next nine points, and New Mexico pulled away.

Williams had a team-high 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. He did have three turnovers, but the Lobos committed a season-low eight in all.

OSU shot a season-low 32.1 percent (18-of-56) and was dragged down by freshman Le’Bryan Nash’s 2-of-15. The Lobos held the McDonald’s All-American to six points after he had scored a combined 39 in the past two games.

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