Apart from UConn’s stunning defeat, it was a strong opening weekend for the American Athletic Conference in men’s hoops. Overall, conference teams went 7-3 over the weekend, all against non-conference opponents.
Cincinnati, the conference preseason favorite, defeated Brown handily, 84-55, on their home court. Preseason Player of the Year Troy Caupain struggled, scoring only 10 points with four turnovers. However, behind guard Jacob Evans’s 23 points on 9-12 shooting, the Bearcats shot 58 percent from the floor and never trailed. With the impressive win, Cincinnati moved in the AP Top 25, where many people thought they deserved to be already, at No. 24.
The only top-25 matchup, other than UConn was Tulane taking on No. 6 UNC. On paper, this looked like a blowout. The Tar Heels boast one of the most dangerous rosters in the country, while the Green Wave came in dead last in the American preseason poll. However, Tulane stuck around, trailing by only one point midway through the first half. UNC eventually pulled away, but Tulane still managed an impressive point total behind Cameron Reynolds’s 21, falling 95-75.
The highlight of the weekend was the overtime thriller between Temple and La Salle. The Owls led for almost the entirety of the game, but were never up by more than nine points. La Salle’s Jordan Price tied the game on a deep three-pointer with five seconds left to send the game to overtime. Temple maintained their composure, ultimately winning the game 97-92 behind Obi Enechionyia’s 20-point, 14-rebound double-double.
SMU is 2-0 after winning both of their contests over the weekend, defeating Gardner-Webb on Friday and Eastern Michigan on Sunday. Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye has gotten off to a fantastic start in a Mustangs uniform, averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds through two games.
Tulsa joins UConn and Tulane as the only conference teams to open with a loss, falling at home to Jacksonville State, 84-73. ECU, Houston, and USF all opened with wins.
American teams are in play throughout the upcoming week, highlighted by SMU vs Pittsburgh on Thursday at Madison Square Garden and No. 24 Cincinnati vs No. 21 Rhode Island on Saturday.