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New Mexico Rallies Past DePaul

Back spasms didn't slow down New Mexico guard Lamont Long, and DePaul couldn't stop him.

Long, who battled back pain much of the week in practice, scored 29

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  • points -- including the game-winning layup with 9.5 seconds left -- as No. 20 New Mexico rallied to beat DePaul 82-81 Friday in the BCA Classic.

    No. 18 Arizona beat No. 9 Tennessee 73-72 in the first game.

    Long and Kevin Henry, who scored a career-high 24 points, led New Mexico back from a 15-point first-half deficit to survive a scare from a DePaul team that started three freshmen.

    Long hit 10-of-19 shots and four 3-pointers, and gave New Mexico only its second lead of the night after picking up a loose-ball rebound and racing in for the winning layup.

    "The ball finally bounced our way," Long said of his rebound -- one of the few loose balls DePaul didn't get.

    Long was fouled on the play by DePaul's Kerry Hartfield, and missed the foul shot. That gave the Blue Demons one more shot, but Hartfield's 3-pointer rimmed out and neither team could control the rebound as time ran out.

    For 39 minutes, it appeared DePaul, 7-23 last season, was going to ride its freshmen front-line trio of Quentin Richardson, Bobby Simmons and Lance Williams to the upset.

    The three shot over and through New Mexico's zone defense and New Mexico couldn't make a run until it countered the Blue Demon's quickness by going with three guards.

    "We started out in the zone because we wondered if a bunch a rookies could shoot in The Pit," said New Mexico coach Dave Bliss. "They shredded us inside, and they were just too quick."

    Richardsn scored 18 points, Simmons 17 and Williams 16. All five DePaul starters scored in double figures, with guards Willie Coleman and Hartfield getting 13 and 12.

    Both Hartfield and Richardson missed the front end of 1-and-1 foul shots in the final 22 seconds. And when the Blue Demons needed one more friendly bounce, it went instead to Long.

    "I've had some young clubs before, but I've never seen the inner strength to come in her for 39 minutes and play with such level of composure," said DePaul coach Pat Kennedy. "We were just one tip away from getting another rebound with 16 seconds left and the lead."

    The Blue Demons led for all but 25 seconds of the game, and that, said Richardson, should prove DePaul is ready for a turnaround season.

    "We knew it would be difficult to come in here and win," he said. "Everybody says we're too young, but we proved we're for real."

    With the DePaul freshmen controlling the boards, the Blue Demons led 42-27 with 6:17 left in the first half.

    New Mexico cut the deficit to 49-40 at halftime, then scored the first seven points of the second half. A 3-pointer by Henry gave the Lobos their first lead at 55-54 with 14:40 remaining, but the Blue Demons built it back to 62-55 -- the final four points coming on two baskets inside by Richardson.

    DePaul still led 79-74 with 3:00 left, but a layup by Long and a steal and layup by freshman John Robinson got New Mexico within a point. Williams scored on a tip-in with 45 seconds left, and Henry answered with an 18-foot baseline jumper.

    Henry was 9-for-13 shooting and 6-of-9 on 3s.

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