NIT: Utah defeats Western Kentucky

The Utes just keep winning.

Led by senior point guard Justin Bibbins, Utah hung out to beat Western Kentucky, 69-64, Tuesday night in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Bibbins, who scored a team-high 19 points, had help from Sedrick Barefield who added 14 points for the Utes (23-11), who advanced to the NIT championship game for the third time.

David Collette had 13 points and seven rebounds for second-seeded Utah. Senior Tyler Rawson chipped in with 12 points, including a game-winning 3-pointer to put the game away with just under 40 seconds to play.

With the win, the Utes will play Thursday night against the winner of the second semifinal game between Penn State and Mississippi State.

Justin Johnson had a game-high 24 points for fourth-seeded Western Kentucky (27-11).

The game went back and forth all night and wasn’t decided until the final seconds. Down 64-63, Rawson came up clitch as he sunk a 3-pointer from the right side to give the Utes a two point lead and snapped a scoring drought of eight minutes without a field goal.

Bibbins had another solid night as the senior made all 12 free throws that he attempted as Utah reached the NIT title for the first time since losing to Purdue in 1974. Utah has chance to win the NIT for the second time in program history. The school’s only title came in 1947 with a 49-45 victory over Kentucky.

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