Around the American: SMU dominates, Cincy remains undefeated

SMU's Sterling Brown (3) runs up the court after missing the final shot in the last second of an NCAA college basketball game against Cincinnati, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 66-64. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

There were ten conference games this week in American Athletic Conference men’s basketball. With each team now having at least six games under their belt, the American standings are starting to take shape. SMU and Cincinnati have distinguished themselves as the best of the conference, while Temple, East Carolina, Tulane and USF are struggling at the bottom.

SMU played two home games this week, hosting UConn on Thursday before welcoming Houston on Saturday. The Mustangs (17-4, 7-1 the American) followed up their 69-49 win over the Huskies with an 85-64 trouncing of the Cougars. Shake Milton scored 27 points on 6-8 from three and Semi Ojeleye added 20 in the win over Houston. After the two impressive victories over middling American teams, SMU remains in second place in the conference, with their only blemish in conference play being a two-point loss at Cincinnati.

Cincinnati (17-2, 7-0 the American) kept their undefeated conference record intact, as they beat Temple 81-74 at home before defeating Tulane 78-61 on the road. The 74 points allowed to Temple were the Bearcats’ fourth highest total of the season, and Cincinnati is now 2-2 when they allow 74 or more points. The Bearcats moved up to No. 19 in this week’s AP Poll, the American’s only representative in the Top 25, as SMU was among the schools receiving votes.

On the other end of the standings, USF has yet to find their first win in American play. The Bulls (6-12, 0-7 the American) lost 86-64 to UCF and 79-67 to Tulsa this week. Troy Holston scored 16 points in both games to lead USF.

UCF (14-5, 5-2 the American) guard Matt Williams connected on 11 shots from behind the arc in a 38 point effort in the win over USF. Later in the week, the Knights traveled to Memphis where they lost a close game, 70-65, despite a 15 point, 13 rebound game from 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall.

Tulsa’s wins this week over the bottom two teams of the American, Tulane and USF, have the Golden Hurricanes quietly sitting in third place in the conference at 5-1. Sterling Taplin scored 24 against Tulane, and Corey Henderson Jr. led Tulsa with 22 against USF.

Memphis’ two games this week were probably the two most competitive games of the American. Before the previously mentioned 70-65 win over UCF, The Tigers (15-5, 5-2 the American) went to Houston and defeated the Cougars 70-67 in overtime. K.J. Lawson led Memphis in scoring both games, recording 28 points and 16 rebounds in the game against Houston and 16 points against UCF.

In the upcoming week, the only nonconference game is Thursday, when No. 24 Xavier takes on No. 19 Cincinnati, a regional rivalry that has notoriously produced some bad blood in past matchups. Highlights of the conference schedule include a pair of UCF games at the top of the standings, as the Knights are home to SMU and at Tulsa.


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