No. 20 SMU wasn't about to lose its conference tournament opener, not after being knocked out of the NCAA field because of a first-round loss a year ago.
American Conference player of the year Nic Moore scored 20 points and the top-seeded Mustangs (25-6) held off East Carolina, 74-68, Friday in the quarterfinals of the AAC tournament in Hartford, Conn. Markus Kennedy, the league's sixth man of the year, added 15 points and six rebounds.
SMU closed the game on a 10-4 run, hitting eight free throws down the stretch to win its first conference tournament game in nine years.
Tulsa 59, Houston 51 - Shaquille Harrison scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds as second-seeded Tulsa held off No. 10 seed Houston to advance to the semifinals.
The Golden Hurricane (22-9) will face No. 6 Connecticut, a 57-54 winner over No. 3 Cincinnati.
Houston stayed within striking distance down the stretch, scoring its final 15 points from beyond the arc, but could not bridge the gap.