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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Larry Brown keeps winning almost everywhere, at every level, and nearly every year.
In his Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coaching career, you can look at this current season at SMU two ways: he's turning around another team; or he may be on his way to his coaching best job - now in his third year with the Mustangs.
No. 18 SMU's 70-66 victory over Colorado on Wednesday night was no different. Trailing by eight late against a team on an 11-game winning streak in the Las Vegas Classic championship game, Brown's team found a way, starting a 14-1 run with just under 7 minutes left at the Orleans Arena.
The Mustangs (11-0) did not make a 3-pointer in the game, while Colorado made 12 of 27.
"I never thought I'd see us not make a (3-pointer) and the other team make 12 and we still won," said Brown, who mostly coached from the bench in his first two games back. "(Colorado) is the best team we've played by far. I'm really proud of our guys."
Despite serving a nine-game, 33-day suspension by the NCAA to start the season, his Mustangs won all nine game under interim and associate head coach Tim Janikovich. SMU is not eligible for postseason play due to the NCAA sanctions.
COACH VS. FORMER PLAYER
To add to anxiety of Wednesday's game, Brown was facing Colorado coach Tad Boyle, his former player with Kansas from 1981-85.
"It's not a fun game playing against Tad. I get no satisfaction out of that," Brown said referring to beating his former player. "I know it meant a lot to our guys. But you know, you're talking about someone who meant a lot to me and still does. During those 33 days, he was constantly calling and checking on me."
Boyle did not enjoy Wednesday's game either.
"It's no fun. They out-executed us down the stretch," said Boyle, who did not get into college coaching until 1994 at Oregon. "He's in the Hall of Fame for a reason."
Boyle recalls his days with Brown 30-plus years ago at Kansas.
"He's a kind of guy that I remember as a senior at Kansas and I really didn't know what to do with my life," he said. "I remember being in his office and him telling someone, 'You got to hire a guy like Tad Boyle.'
"He got me my first job out of Kansas. My resume didn't do it for me. Larry Brown did it for me. He's always been great for me. I'm not the only one. He's been instrumental for so many coaches and players."
MORE OF MOORE
Nic Moore scored 16 points to lead SMU as the Mustangs remain one of five unbeaten Division I teams.
Moore, the tournament's MVP, was 7 of 18 from the field.
"I think it was our poise and character that allowed us to come back," said Moore, who had 25 points in Tuesday's win over Kent State. "We just need to get shots."
Shake Milton added 14 points, while Markus Kennedy had 12 for the Mustangs.
SMU hit six of seven free throws over the final 1:06.
Josh Fortune led Colorado (11-2) with 15 points, including a desperation 3-pointer with 20 seconds left that made it 68-66.
Milton made two free throws with 13 seconds left to seal it.
Josh Scott had 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Dominique Collier had 12 points for Colorado.
The Buffaloes took a 54-46 lead, their largest of the game, with 8:29 left on a dunk by Wesley Gordon.
SMU missed all five 3-point attempts. The Mustangs shot 29 of 60 from the field (48 percent), while Colorado was 23 of 58 (40 percent). SMU was outrebounded 38-34. This was the seventh meeting all-time with the Buffaloes holding a 4-3 edge. They last met in January 2009, when SMU won 70-67 in Dallas.
SMU is at Tulsa next Tuesday.
Colorado is at California on Jan. 1.
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