SMU, Minnesota reach NIT final
Southern Methodist beat Clemson 65-59 and Minnesota edged Florida State 67-64 in overtime to reach Thursday’s NIT title game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Associated Press
NEW YORK – Larry Brown already is the only head coach to win both an NCAA and NBA championship. Now he has a chance to add the NIT to his extensive résumé — in his old backyard, no less.
Markus Kennedy scored 21 points, including the clinching three-point play, and Southern Methodist rallied from 13 points down in the second half to beat Clemson 65-59 Tuesday night, sending its Hall of Fame coach into Thursday’s NIT title game at Madison Square Garden.
“I love this place,” Brown said. “I wanted our guys to experience what I grew up looking forward to.”
Nic Moore added 13 points and Nick Russell scored 10 for the Mustangs (27-9), who will play Minnesota (24-13) in the final.
Minnesota outlasted Florida State 67-64 in overtime in the second game of the semifinal doubleheader. Reserve center Maurice Walker made six free throws in OT for the Golden Gophers.
The 73-year-old Brown, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up in nearby Long Beach, is old enough to remember when the NIT was the premier college basketball tournament. The former New York Knicks coach has directed quite a turnaround in two seasons at SMU, which was snubbed by the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday.
“We had a disappointment two weeks ago,” Brown said. “But it was a phenomenal opportunity for our program and for our kids to play in this environment.”