NIT semifinals: SMU reaches title game

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Larry Brown already is the only head coach to win an NCAA and NBA title. Now he has a chance to add the National Invitation Tournament to his extensive resume -- in his old backyard, no less.

Markus Kennedy scored 21 points, including the clinching three-point play, and SMU rallied from 13 down in the second half to beat Clemson, 65-59, Tuesday night, sending its Hall of Fame coach into the NIT final at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"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 for the crown Thursday night.

Brown, 73, 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 around. The former New York Knicks coach has directed quite a turnaround in two seasons at SMU, 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."

By all accounts, the Mustangs were one of the final schools left out of the 68-team field. But they were given a No. 1 seed in the NIT and have taken full advantage of it with four wins in a row -- three on their home court.

The latest one came with Knicks coach Mike Woodson and some of his players, including Kenyon Martin and Tim Hardaway Jr., sitting close to the court.

"This is a quality, quality championship," Brown said. "We haven't had a lot of nice things happen at SMU for a long, long time, so if we were fortunate enough to win a championship like this, and I was part of it, it would be pretty neat."

Rod Hall led Clemson (23-13) with 18 points.

Other semifinal

Minnesota 67, Florida State 64: Deandre Mathieu and Austin Hollins scored 17 points apiece and Andre Hollins added 13 to lead Minnesota (24-13) past Florida State (22-14) in overtime in a matchup of two of the tournament's No. 1 seeds.


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