Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - In a winner-take-all game for the American Athletic Conference championship, No. 22 SMU prevailed 67-62 over visiting Tulsa on Sunday.
This marks the 15th conference championship in school history for the Mustangs (24-6, 15-3 AAC), and they will have a first-round bye in the conference tournament starting on March 12 in Hartford.
"Everything right now is like a seventh game in the NBA," said SMU coach Larry Brown. "It's one-and-done. We've got to enjoy this."
Markus Kennedy paced SMU with 16 points off the bench, and Cannen Cunningham added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Golden Hurricane (21-9, 14-4) missed a great opportunity to bolster their resume one week before Selection Sunday. James Woodard scored a career-high 30 points with 10 3-pointers, but his teammates combined to shoot just 11-for-39 from the floor.
"Every night, no one thinks that this team should be winning," said Tulsa coach Frank Haith. "This team kept fighting, competing and getting better."
Rashad Smith's layup at 12:39 of the second half gave Tulsa a 41-37 lead, but it would have trouble generating offense from there. Kennedy scored the next seven points in an 8-0 run that returned the lead to the Mustangs.
Out of a timeout, Woodard connected from beyond the arc again to end the Golden Hurricane's scoring drought that lasted over four minutes. Over the final four minutes, Woodard would be the only Hurricane to hit from the floor, and they would not get closer than two points.
In the final 30 seconds, Woodard hit his last two 3-pointers of the game, but the Mustangs hit 5-of-6 free throws in the same span to maintain their lead.
Tulsa used a 7-0 run to take a 25-21 lead late in the first half. After Ben Moore's shot gave the Mustangs a three-point lead, they would not hit a field goal four nearly four minutes. In the meantime, Woodard hit a pair of 3s to put the Golden Hurricane in front.
SMU led 29-28 at the break after holding Tulsa scoreless over the final four minutes of the half.
SMU won its first conference championship since 1993 ... Prior to the game, the Mustangs honored their five seniors, Cunningham, Kevin Dunleavy Jr., Ryan Manuel, Yanick Moreira and Jean-Micheal Mudiay ... Nic Moore scored 14 for SMU ... Shaquille Harrison finished with 10 points for Tulsa.