Thursday, March 20, 2014
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Southern Methodist 68, UC Irvine 54

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[March 20, 2014]  DALLAS  Southern Methodist 68, UC Irvine 54: Cannen Cunningham had 17 points off the bench to lead the host Mustangs to their first-ever NIT win.

Ben Moore added 11 points and seven rebounds for top-seeded Southern Methodist (24-9) and Nick Russell had 10 points. Nic Moore added seven points, eight assists, four steals and four rebounds for the Mustangs, who will play No. 5 LSU in the second round.

Luke Nelson led eighth-seeded UC Irvine (23-12) with 13 points and Alex Young added 10 points. Will Davis II had nine points and 11 rebounds while 7-6 freshman center Mamadou Ndiaye had seven points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks.

Young hit the Anteaters' fourth 3-pointer of the first half for a 30-22 lead with three minutes left but SMU finished the half on a 7-0 run, capped by Cunningham's dunk after Nic Moore's steal. Sterling Brown hit two 3-pointers to power a 19-4 run by the Mustangs that gave them a 48-39 lead with 10 1/2 minutes left and the Anteaters never got closer than six.

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Cunningham later scored seven straight points for SMU, including a jumper from the foul line with just under two minutes left for a 60-52 lead. The Mustangs held UC Irvine to 22.6 percent shooting and forced eight turnovers in the second half after the Anteaters shot 52.2 percent in the first half.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Ndiaye finishes the season with a school-record 106 blocked shots after his fifth game with at least seven blocks. ... SMU lost first-round NIT games in its only other appearances in 1986 and 2000. ... Nic Moore has recorded eight assists in back-to-back games.

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