NEW YORK, March 28 (UPI) -- Freshman Dajuan Wagner got Memphis to the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament and unheralded reserve Earl Barron won it when he came off the bench Thursday night to score 19 of his 25 points in the first half as the Tigers captured their first NIT title with a 72-62 victory over South Carolina.
Barron was 9-of-9 from the field in the first half and Wagner nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer that extended Memphis' lead to 35-29 at halftime.
The Tigers (27-9) opened the second half with a 10-1 run, fueled by seven points by Wagner, whose 3-pointer made it 45-30 with 15:14 remaining.
South Carolina (22-15) got no closer than nine points thereafter.
Plagued by foul trouble, Wagner finished with 16 points in perhaps his last college game. He has been dogged by questions regarding whether he is entering the NBA draft throughout the tournament.
Rolando Howell scored 20 points and Aaron Lucas added 11 for the Gamecocks, who have lost the last seven meetings with their former Metro Conference rivals.