Around the American: Temple, Houston win tournament championships

Temple's Daniel Dingle (4) celebrates with Alani Moore (2) during an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament in New York, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (Andres Kudacki/AP Photo)

With early season tournaments in full swing, the American Athletic Conference was involved in the championships won this past week. Although UConn struggled in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Temple and Houston won titles in their respective tournaments.

Temple recorded a couple huge wins in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Owls beat No. 25 Florida State in the semifinals 89-86, and then defeated No. 19 West Virginia 81-77 to win the championship. Junior Obi Enechionyia was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 22 points, including the game-sealing free throw, and grabbing 12 rebounds in the championship game. Wins over two Top 25 opponents puts Temple at 4-2, and should give the Owls some confidence after tough losses against UMass and New Hampshire earlier in the season.

Houston emerged as the champions in the Gulf Coast Showcase after beating Vermont 72-71 in the championship game. The Cougars easily beat George Mason and South Dakota to reach the finals, where junior forward Devin Davis made a layup to win the game as time expired. Junior guard Rob Gray led Houston with 20 points and five assists to bring his team the championship and keep the Cougars undefeated at 5-0.

Memphis played in the Emerald Coast Classic, losing to Providence 60-51 in the semifinals and beating Iowa 100-92 to win third place. Memphis (5-1) went just 8-27 from the floor in the second half of the semifinal game. After struggling to score against Providence, the Tigers got back on track with a 35-point performance from star sophomore Dedric Lawson in the third place game. Four other Tigers joined Lawson in double figures.

Cincinnati played two home games against Samford and Lipscomb. The Bearcats won both games by 15 and 23 points, respectively. The offense was led by junior forward Kyle Washington, who averaged 16.5 points on the week. The two wins give Cincinnati a 5-1 record, with a matchup at Big 12 opponent Iowa State scheduled for Thursday.

SMU traveled west to take on USC and were defeated by a familiar name. The Trojan’s Bennie Boatright scored 17 points, including 4-7 from the 3-point line, in a 78-73 USC victory. The Mustangs (4-2) had four players with 12 or more points, led by senior Ben Moore with 14. Junior Semi Ojeleye added 13 points and 10 rebounds for SMU.

Notable matchups in this week’s games are Houston at LSU, Memphis at Ole Miss and Cincinnati at Iowa State.


Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.