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Gophers win NIT, with two-point victory over SMU

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The Gopher men's basketball team won the NIT on Thursday night, by defeating Southern Methodist University 65-63.

The championship puts an exciting end on Richard Pitino's first season as the Gophers' head coach.

It was the second time in the last three years Minnesota reached the NIT Championship – they lost to Stanford in 2012. This time though, things were much different.

Austin Hollins, playing in his final college basketball game, was outstanding for the Gophers. It was his three-pointer with :46 to play that changed the game for the Gophers as it broke a 59 all tie. He finished with a game-high 19 points.

After that all they had to do was make their free throws.

The last time the Gophers won the NIT was in 1998, but that was vacated. They also won it in 1993.

The Gophers finished with three players in double-figures. Andre Hollins didn't have his best night shooting, but still scored 14 points, including two big free-throws in the final seconds to secure the win for Minnesota.

Deandre Mathieu also came through as he scored 13 and dished out seven assists.

The Gophers didn't have much of an inside game. But the early outside shooting allowed the Gophers to build a three-point halftime lead. For the game, Minnesota finished at 49 percent from the floor.

The Gophers (25-13) could be one of those teams that is a lot better next year. Minnesota loses Austin Hollins, the school's all-time leader in games played. But according to the Pioneer Press, they could return as many as four starters.

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