Kendall Williams scored a season-high 24 points to help No. 25 New Mexico beat Indiana State 77-68 in overtime on Saturday.
New Mexico squandered a 19-point lead in the second half, but then outscored the Sycamores 13-4 in the extra period. New Mexico won despite shooting 20 percent from the field in the second half.
"It's hard to win on the road when you have such a bad shooting night, yet our guys find a way to fight, they find a way to get it done," Alford said.
The Lobos outscored the Sycamores 28-18 from the free throw line.
"They're a very good basketball team," Alford, the former Indiana University star, said. "We beat them at the free throw line on makes, and that might have been the difference in the game."
Indiana State had won four straight. Its only other defeat this season was an 86-59 loss to UCLA in the opener.
This time, the Sycamores hung tough.
"It's a positive because we really worked hard and we really fought hard in the second half," Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. "I'm not so much of taking something positive out of a loss, but if our guys are going to work that hard, we're going to win more than we lose. We just need to clean it up."
New Mexico entered the game with victories over Connecticut and George Mason.
Justin Gant's 3-pointer with 28.9 seconds left in regulation cut New Mexico's lead to 62-60. Williams drained two free throws at the other end to make it 64-60 with 25.6 seconds to go.
Odum hit a pullup jumper with 17.4 seconds left to make it 64-62. Williams then missed two free throws that might have put the game out of reach. Odum drove and maneuvered his way to the hoop for the tying basket to force overtime.
Williams didn't worry too much about the misses.
"I've made a lot of clutch free throws since I've been playing," he said. "I just took the same approach I had on the ones prior to that and the ones prior to that. Unfortunately, that's how the ball bounces sometimes. One of my coaches came up to me and said he'd bet his life I'd make the next two."
Williams scored 15 points in the first half to help New Mexico take a 33-19 lead into the break. The Lobos shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and held the Sycamores to 8-for-27 shooting.
New Mexico started well in the second half as a 3-pointer by Adams increased the Lobos' lead to 40-21.
Indiana State didn't give up. A 3-pointer by Cummings cut the deficit to 12, and a free throw by Odum trimmed New Mexico's lead to 46-35. A free throw by Devonte Brown made it a 10-point game.
Odum converted a 3-point play to cut ISU's deficit to single digits, but the Sycamores fouled Tony Snell as he shot a 3-pointer, and Snell made all three free throws to make it 51-39 and slow the Sycamores' momentum.
A fadeaway in the lane and a baseline jumper by Odum cut Indiana State's deficit to 51-45 with 8:56 remaining. Odum scored again to make it a four-point game.
Williams, who had been silent for most of the second half, came back with a 3-point play.
Indiana State got the crowd going when Odum launched a pass to Cummings from just beyond halfcourt. Cummings caught the pass, banked the shot in and was fouled, bringing fans to their feet. Cummings converted the 3-point play to cut New Mexico's lead to 54-52.
"They just picked up their intensity and we missed some shots we were hitting in the first half," Williams said. "It really made for a good game."