Cunningham leads Oregon St. over Texas
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)
The junior guard scored a career-high 37 points and played the final minutes of regulation and overtime with a split lip to lead the Beavers to a 100-95 victory over Texas on Saturday night in the semifinals of the TicketCity Legends Classic.
''I might have to get some stitches. J'Covan Brown hit me in the face,'' Cunningham said of the collision that left him with blood around his mouth for the rest of the game. ''I saw the blood and was a little worried, because I didn't want it to get on my jersey. But I wasn't coming out. I stayed out on the court and was able to make some big plays.''
Cunningham, who had 35 points in his previous game against Hofstra, made several hustle plays down the stretch and went 8 for 8 from the free throw line in overtime.
''Jared has evolved as a player. He's come a long way. He's extremely receptive to coaching and this is the culmination of his hard work,'' Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. ''He does everything for us. The magnitude of what he had to do for us tonight against Texas is big-time. And it's becoming a regular thing.''
Robinson gave Cunningham some grief over being hit in the mouth.
''Jared's a handsome guy. I know he's worried about his looks,'' Robinson said. ''But the last thing on his mind was coming out. He's a warrior. He's not coming out.
''As a program, that's a big win for us, right near the top of big wins.''
The Beavers (4-0) will play No. 18 Vanderbilt in the championship game Monday night at the Izod Center. The Commodores beat North Carolina State 86-79 in the other semifinal.
Devon Collier added 17 points for Oregon State, which trailed 72-64 with 7:11 left in regulation. Cunningham tied the game at 80 with a layup with 1:40 left. Myck Kabongo of Texas (2-1) broke the tie with two free throws with 1:20 to play. Cunningham then made three free throws around one by Kabongo over the final 18 seconds to send the game to overtime tied at 81.
Alexis Wangmene made a reverse layup 54 seconds into overtime to give Texas the lead, but the Beavers went on a 9-0 run that started with 3-pointers by Ahmad Starks and Angus Brandt and ended with two free throws by Cunningham with 1:43 to go.
Cunningham was 20 of 23 from the free throw line and Oregon State was 31 for 43 overall.
''We had 23 turnovers and put them on the line 43 times. Those numbers work against you,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ''Their maturity won out because they made some plays we didn't make. I think we have a chance to be a good basketball team but we have to learn to guard and we can't be fouling people out.''
Five Longhorns fouled out of the game.
Brown had 25 points — 18 in the first half — and nine assists for the Longhorns, while Kabongo had 13 points.
''I shouldn't have been in foul trouble. I let my team down,'' Kabongo said. ''I couldn't have a big game sitting on the bench. I put myself in bad shape with fouls and I lost the game.''
Former Texas star Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder sat right behind the Longhorns' bench.
Oregon State closed to 4-2 in the series with its first win over Texas since December 1967 in the Far West Classic.