ROSEMONT, ILL. Texas A&M; played a nearly flawless first half in building a big lead and then overcame a series of late mistakes to beat DePaul, 75-72, in the second round of the NIT.
"We played about as well as we could offensively in the first half," coach Billy Gillispie said Saturday after his team nearly lost a 20-point lead. "We hung on for dear life and got lucky at the end."
The Aggies (21-9) will face the winner of Holy Cross and Saint Joseph's in the third round.
"I'm not ready for it to be done yet," said senior guard Bobby Leach, who scored 23 points and was involved in two of the biggest plays down the stretch.
Leach gave the Aggies a 73-68 lead with 21.6 seconds left when he made a pair of free throws after a technical foul on DePaul. The Blue Demons had stolen an inbounds pass, but guard LeVar Seals called for a timeout when his team had none left.
"That was very unfortunate, just human emotion," DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.
But Leach nearly gave it right back, fouling Drake Diener on a three-point attempt a moment later. Diener dropped in all three to cut the lead to 73-71.
A&M; freshman Dominique Kirk was fouled twice and made two of his four free throws, twice extending the lead to three and giving DePaul (20-11) a chance to tie. But Diener and Sammy Mejia missed three-pointers in the closing seconds.
"With a shooter like Diener, they're always in the game. We didn't think coming out in the second half that it was over," said Aggies forward Antoine Wright. "It's fitting it went to the wire."
Wichita State 84, Western Kentucky 81
Wichita -- Jamar Howard scored 22 points to lead Wichita State past Western Kentucky in the first round. Paul Miller scored 18 for the Shockers (22-9), while P.J. Couisnard scored 13, and Randy Burns had 12. Anthony Winchester had 25 for the Hilltoppers (22-9).
Memphis 83, Va. Tech 62
Memphis, Tenn. -- Rodney Carney scored 17 points, leading five Memphis players in double figures as the Tigers (21-15) advanced to the third round of the NIT.
St. Joe's 55, Buffalo 50
Philadelphia -- Pat Carroll scored 26 points to lead Saint Joseph's past Buffalo in the first round of the NIT. The victory was the 200th of Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli's career.
Davidson 82, SMS 71
Springfield, Mo. -- Brendan Winters scored 22 points to help Davidson beat Southwest Missouri State.