The unranked UAB Blazers gave the No. 19-ranked New Mexico Lobos a scare on Thursday in the Charleston Classic, but the Lobos held on for a win. The final score was 97-94 in double-overtime at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.
Several timely threes propelled New Mexico to victory. Guard Kendall Williams hit a running three-pointer from well beyond the line at the regulation buzzer to send the game into overtime, sparking the familiar debate about whether or not to foul when up by three in the final seconds. Lobos center Alex Kirk hit a three with four seconds left in the first overtime to send the game to double-OT. With 43 seconds remaining in the second overtime, guard Cleveland Thomas splashed a three through the net to give New Mexico a lead it would not relinquish.
New head coach Craig Neal and the Lobos narrowly avoided their first loss of the year. They are 3-0 after losing Tony Snell to the NBA and former coach Steve Alford to UCLA.
Williams had an inspired all-around outing, finishing with 29 points on 8-18 shooting, plus 10 assists, six rebounds and two steals. He went 9-10 from the free throw line and 4-8 from beyond the arc. Before the big buzzer beater, he had a three-point play with six seconds left in the game to bring his team within one point.
Forward Cameron Bairstow added 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. He shot 8-16 from the field. Kirk had 16 points, 11 boards and five blocks.
Guard Chad Frazier led the way for UAB. He finished with a game-high 34 points on 11-19 shooting, plus three rebounds, two assists and a steal. He shot 9-9 from the line and 3-6 from downtown, but turned the ball over eight times.
Forward Rod Rucker added 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists for the Blazers. He shot 12-13 from the free throw line, but just 3-22 from the field. Guard Robert Williams chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The two teams were even midway through the first half. New Mexico then went on an 18-6 run and looked like it had things under control. The Lobos led 35-26 at halftime and still held a 10-point lead after a Williams three-pointer five minutes into the second.
UAB went on a 20-7 run after that and took the lead with under nine minutes to go. From there it was neck-and-neck until the end of the second overtime period.
New Mexico is the only ranked team in the eight-team tournament.
The Blazers will play Nebraska at 11 a.m. ET Friday. The Lobos will face UMass following that, at about 1:30 p.m. ET.