SMU beats UC-Irvine 68-54 in 1st round of NIT

SMU beats UC-Irvine 68-54 in 1st round of NIT

DALLAS (AP) — Cannen Cunningham scored 17 points to lead SMU to a 68-54 victory Wednesday night over UC-Irvine in the first round of the NIT, giving Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown his first college postseason victory in 26 years.

Ben Moore added 11 points in the Mustangs' first NIT win since 2000. Nick Russell had 10.

Top-seeded SMU (24-9) used a 23-7 run in the second half to erase a 35-29 deficit, scoring inside and hitting free throws to balloon the lead to 53-42 with 8:16 left.

However, less than 2 minutes later, officials determined the Mustangs inadvertently were given a 1-and-1 opportunity too early, and they subtracted two points from the hosts to make it 51-44 with 7:24 left.

Luke Nelson led No. 8 seed UC-Irvine (23-12) with 13 points, and Alex Young chipped in 10. SMU will face LSU or San Francisco in the second round