Around The American: Cincinnati is back

"Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg, draws up a play for the players during an NCAA college basketball game against Central Florida, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Amherst, Mass" ( J. Anthony Roberts/AP Exchange)

The American Conference had a solid past week for themselves in the college basketball world. Cincinnati, who is carrying the conference’s weight on the national scene while UConn is struggling, re-joined the AP Top 25 Rankings, now at No. 22, after knocking off then National No. 18 Iowa State, in Ames, Iowa, 55-54 in overtime. Kyle Washington, a transfer from NC State, led the way with 13 points and 10 rebounds, keeping up with his strong play all season. The Bearcats (7-1) also whipped Bowling Green 85-56 on Sunday and are rolling, with their lone loss coming to a good URI team early in the season at Mohegan Sun.

UCF also continues to be a pleasant surprise for the conference. The Knights (6-1) came up to New England and defeated an UMass team that is playing well 65-62. This came after handedly beating Stetson on Nov. 30  by a score of 81-45. New head coach Jonny Dawkins has the team playing well, as their lone loss was a 10 point defeat to reigning National Champion Villanova in the championship game of the Charleston Classic on Nov. 20. Cult hero and 7’6” sophomore Tacko Fall has elevated his game and is currently averaging 13.9 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game.

SMU has been a dominant force in the conference’s short existence is also playing well. Many familiar faces are gone and the Mustangs (5-3) as highly touted as past years. The Stangs have played a tough schedule up to this point, losing to undefeated USC 78-73 the day after Thanksgiving and 71-62 at Boise State on Nov. 30.  They bounced back to beat Cal State Bakersfield 49-43 on Friday and Delaware State 74-60 on Sunday. The Mustangs relied on sophomore guard Shake Milton, and senior forwars Ben Moore and Semi Ojeyle for most of their offense in those contests.

Houston, who was a fringe NCAA tournament team last season, is also off to a good start. The Cougars (6-1) have played a weak non-conference schedule up to this point. In their lone challenge, at LSU on Nov. 29, they fell 84-65 to a team that has looked inept this season. However judgment day is coming soon for the Cougars. They play at Arkansas this Tuesday and then host URI Saturday, making for a challenging week. They will head into to it off a feel good win from Saturday against Prairie View A&M. The Cougars beat the Panthers 105-61 and Rob Gray Jr. led the way with 23 points including going four for four from three.

Temple, despite a gauntlet of a schedule, is also representing the conference well. The Owls (6-2) already have two Top 25 wins on the season, against Florida State and West Virginia, during Thanksgiving week. Last week continued “Big Five” season however as the Owls faced reputable foes St. Joseph’s and Penn with whom they share Philadelphia with. The Owls beat St. Joe’s 78-72 at their place on Nov. 30 and beat Penn 70-62 in a home game on Saturday. Obi Enechionia was big in the St. Joe’s game, scoring 26 points while Shizz Alston Jr. led Temple with 14 in the Penn game. Tough games with George Washington, DePaul and No. 1 Villanova are coming fast for the Owls as well.


Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.