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Minnesota 65, SMU 63

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NEW YORK — Capping his first year as coach at Minnesota, Richard Pitino led the Golden Gophers to the NIT championship with a 65-63 win over Southern Methodist on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Minnesota (25-13) won NIT titles in 1993 and 1998, though the latter championship was vacated due to NCAA violations.

The Golden Gophers, who set a school single-season record for wins, received 19 points from forward Austin Hollins. Guard Andre Hollins scored 14, and guard DeAndre Mathieu added 13 for Minnesota.

SMU (27-10) was playing for its first NIT title. The Mustangs were led by guard Nic Moore, who scored 17 points. SMU guard Nick Russell finished with 15 points.

The score was tied three times in the last 2:16 of the game until Austin Hollins’ 3-pointer from the right elbow with 46 seconds to play provided Minnesota with a 62-59 lead. Hollins scored all six of his team’s points in the final minute, including two clutch free throws with four seconds to go that gave Minnesota a 65-62 cushion.

SMU went the last 1:40 without scoring from the floor.

Moore’s two free throws tied the game at 59-59 with 57 seconds to play.

Mathieu’s two free throws put Minnesota ahead 55-54 with 2:16 to go. That was followed by a layup from Austin Hollins at the 1:51 mark, but Russell drained a 3-pointer 10 seconds later for a 57-57 tie.

With the score tied at 45-45 and 9:36 left in the game, SMU went on an 8-1 run, the longest streak by either team on the night, grabbing a 53-46 edge with 5:53 to play.

The Golden Gophers scored the next seven points in just one minute to knot the score at 53.

The game was tied seven times in the first half, and there were nine lead changes as neither team put together any kind of substantial run.

The Golden Gophers created some separation late in the half, breaking a 22-22 tie with 5:11 left by scoring six straight points en route to a 30-27 halftime lead.

Austin Hollins was the only player in double figures at halftime, scoring 10 points.

NOTES: Minnesota coach Richard Pitino’s father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, faced SMU twice this season. … Before Tuesday night’s NIT semifinal, the only time SMU played at Madison Square Garden was a 76-72 loss to St. John’s in December 1950. … Minnesota was making its sixth trip to the Garden. … The last meeting between SMU and Minnesota was a 100-80 win by the Mustangs in 1962. … SMU entered the game ranked seventh in the nation in field-goal percentage (.383). … The Mustangs had held 29 of their past 46 opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field. However, Minnesota shot 49 percent Thursday night. SMU shot 48.9 percent.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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