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‘Teddy Buckets’, New Mexico State upset UConn, advance to face Arkansas

Teddy Allen brings New Mexico State back to March Madness

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round - New Mexico State vs Connecticut
Teddy Allen scored 37 points to lift New Mexico State over UConn.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Entering this year, New Mexico State had lost 12 straight NCAA Tournament games. Teddy Allen and the rest of the NMSU squad bucked that trend with a 70-63 victory over No. 5 UConn Thursday night.

Allen lead the team with 37 as the 12th-seeded Aggies picked up their first NCAA Tournament win since 1993. New Mexico State controlled the game most of the way through, but it wasn’t easy.

The game started as a rock fight. A total of 20 points were scored in the game’s first 10 minutes, and Allen missed six of his first seven shots. However, the Aggies weathered the storm and took a 14-12 at the 8-minute mark. Allen then started getting hot and expanded the lead to 32-22 at the break.

UConn did not go away. The Huskies tied the game with eight minutes to go and then again with two minutes left. Every time UConn made a run, the Aggies provided an answer, mostly from Allen.

With the game on the line, “Teddy Buckets” would not be denied. Isolated on the wing against Tyrese Martin, Allen dribbled side to side, stepped behind the 3-point line, and with Martin’s hand in his face, netted a triple. A contested bad shot for most people, but any shot is a good shot for Allen. NMSU head coach Chris Jans calls Allen “a bad shot taker, and bad shot-maker.”

As “Teddy Buckets” was doing his thing, people took notice across the college basketball landscape:

As Allen’s big three boosted the NMSU lead to three, they still needed to make a stop. Huskies point guard RJ Cole was dangerous, but NMSU was aggressive and sent a trap to mid-court. Senior Clayton Henry stepped in front of a pass, flipped the ball ahead to Allen, who went coast-to-coast and converted on a layup while getting fouled. He converted 3-point play opportunity.

Martin hit a three for UConn to pull the game within three. Allen then sealed the game with two free throws. Allen finished a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line and shot 4-for-7 from three. It was a March performance for the ages, but it was nothing new for those who have followed Allen closely.

Allen has scored in double digits in every game but one this season. He averaged over 15 points per game in the Big Ten last season.

Read more about Allen’s journey that has taken him to five schools over five years, and how he has come into his own in Las Cruces, N.M.

New Mexico State’s run is far from over. The Aggies snapped their NCAA Tournament losing streak at 12. They will now play fourth-seeded Arkansas, who won 26 games and ranked 17th in defensive efficiency.

Right now NMSU is a 5.5 point underdog on the DraftKings sportsbook. I don’t know about you, but I’m not betting against Allen right now. Look for “Teddy Buckets” to send New Mexico State to its first Sweet 16 since 1992.