NEW YORK — With Sean Miller watching in the stands, the Xavier Musketeers pulled out a 73-72 win over Texas A&M in the NIT Championship at Madison Square Garden.
Xavier jumped to a nine-point lead to start the game, but the Aggies bounced back, leading by as many as 10 points toward the end of the first half. The Muskies were able to regain the lead with just over 12 minutes left to play. The two teams remained neck and neck for the rest of the game.
Xavier led 71-70 when a foul on Dwon Odom gave Aggies guard Quenton Jackson two free throws with less than 30 seconds to go. Jackson made both shots from the charity stripe, giving A&M a one-point lead.
With time winding down, Jack Nunge hit a hook to give Xavier the 73-72 lead. Texas A&M guard Tyrece Radford barely missed a hail mary in the final seconds.
Nunge finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Colby Jones had 21 points, while Odom posted 18 points. Jackson led the Aggies with 23 points.
Both teams were on the bubble heading into Selection Sunday. Texas A&M had wins over Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn in the SEC Tournament, but it wasn't enough to convince the committee. Xavier looked like a tournament lock until a collapse at the end of the season put them out of contention.
Xavier parted ways with head coach Travis Steele after the team's first round win over Cleveland State in the NIT. Assistant head coach Jonas Hayes has been leading the squad through the tournament.
The university announced Miller would return for a second stint with Xavier next season. Steele was named the head men's basketball coach at Miami University Thursday.
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