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Storied Kentucky booted from NIT by Notre Dame

Irish withstand late 17-5 run to beat Wildcats by 10

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – By the time Jodie Meeks got going for Kentucky, Notre Dame was all but packing its bags for New York.

The Irish were up by 15 points before Meeks made his second basket, on just his fourth shot with 12:18 left in the game, and the Irish survived a 17-5 run late by the Wildcats to end a 10-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 77-67 victory Wednesday night to advance to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

“They did a great job of guarding him,” Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. “You think about what he’s been through all season, as far as the physical stress, the mental stress, he’s handled it well.”

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said the Irish (21-14) threw a variety of defenders at Meeks, who finished with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting, although Ryan Ayers had the most success against Meeks.

“He only had three shots in the first half,” Brey said. “But a guy like that, he got going a little bit in the second half. But overall I thought we did a really good job.”

Kentucky, meanwhile, had no answer for Luke Harangody, who had 30 points and 11 rebounds.

“He was pretty much scoring all over the court,” said Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson, who guarded Harangody.

Kentucky (22-14) cut the lead to 67-62 on a slam dunk by Perry Stevenson with 2:42 left. But the Irish were 8-of-8 from the free-throw line over the final 1:29 to end the game on a 10-5 run to hang on.

“We’re all super excited,” said Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney, who added 15 points. “This was our goal coming into the NIT. We put all the talk about us getting to the NCAAs way behind us and we focused on getting back to New York.”

The Irish, who hit 12 three-pointers in the win, will face Penn State (25-11) Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

SDSU tops Saint Mary’s

SAN DIEGO – Steve Fisher’s San Diego State Aztecs are going to New York and Patrick Mills is heading into the offseason.

The Aztecs blew a 13-point second-half lead, then rallied to beat Mills and the Saint Mary’s Gaels 70-66 on Wednesday night to reach the semifinals of the NIT.

Tim Shelton posted up for the go-ahead basket with 48.6 seconds left and Richie Williams made three free throws in the final 26 seconds as the Aztecs held off the Gaels.

Mills was on the bench at the final buzzer, having fouled out with 10.8 seconds to go. He scored a game-high 18 points but had a horrible night shooting, going 7-for-24 overall and 4-for-13 on 3-pointers.

Billy White scored 17 for the Aztecs (26-9), who will play Baylor (23-14) in the semifinals on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

This is the deepest SDSU has advanced in a national postseason tournament in its Division I history.

Students rushed the court after the buzzer.

Fisher was part of two NIT championships while at Michigan, as an assistant to Bill Frieder in 1984 and as head coach in 1997.

Fisher coached Michigan to the NCAA title in 1989.SDSU and Saint Mary’s (28-7) both felt they should have been in the NCAA Tournament. As it is, the Aztecs are the last Mountain West Conference team still playing in the postseason.

The fast, normally exciting Mills had a miserable end to his season. He was on the bench at the final buzzer, having fouled out with 10.8 seconds to go.

He scored a game-high 18 points but had a horrible night shooting, going 7-for-24 overall and 4-for-13 on 3-pointers.

Mills – who came in shooting 86.7 percent from the free-throw line – missed the front end of a one-and-one with 34.9 seconds left and the Gaels trailing 66-64.

SDSU’s Kyle Spain rebounded and Mills fouled Williams, who made both ends of a one-and-one for a four-point lead.

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