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No. 12 SMU holds off ECU 81-77 in AAC quarterfinals

March 10, 2017
SMU's Semi Ojeleye dives for a loose ball as East Carolina's Jeremy Sheppard, top, defends, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
SMU's Semi Ojeleye dives for a loose ball as East Carolina's Jeremy Sheppard, top, defends, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Semi Ojeleye scored a career-high 36 points and No. 12 SMU held off East Carolina 81-77 Friday in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

The conference’s player of the year hit 12 of his 19 shots and pulled down 12 rebounds, giving him his fifth double-double this season.

Sterling Brown added 16 points for SMU (28-4). The AAC’s regular-season champions have won 14 straight and 24 of their last 25 games.

Kentrell Barkley, who has been battling tendinitis in his left knee, had 22 of his 24 points in the second half to lead East Carolina, which rallied from a 22-point halftime deficit to tie the game. Caleb White had 17 points and Elijah Hughes added 15 for the Pirates (15-18).

Ojeleye had 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half, when the Mustangs led by as many as 24 points. But the Pirates outscored SMU 56-38 in the second half. They trailed 63-45 with 7 minutes left before making their run.

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