Around the American: Cincinnati, SMU continue dominance, Houston wins third straight

Tulsa guard Pat Birt (11) shoots against SMU forward Ben Moore during an NCAA college basketball game in Tulsa, Okla., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP)

Tulsa could not survive either test against two of the America’s best teams, Cincinnati and SMU. The Golden Hurricane (12-10, 6-4 the American) hosted each team this week, losing to the No. 11 Bearcats 57-55 and then getting blown out by the Mustangs, who entered this week’s AP Poll at No. 25 with the 76-53 win. Troy Caupain’s jumper with 4.4 seconds remaining helped Cincinnati survive in a game that Tulsa led by 11 with about six minutes to play. The Golden Hurricane led for most of the game despite committing 16 turnovers. In Tulsa’s game against SMU, Sterling Brown, Shake Milton and Semi Ojeleye combined for 62 points – more than the entire Golden Hurricane team – as the Mustangs dominated.

Cincinnati (21-2, 10-0 the American) and SMU (20-4, 10-1 the American) also beat up on UConn and ECU, respectively, to stay firmly at the top of the standings. No team is within three games of the Bearcats and Mustangs. Cincinnati will travel to Moody Coliseum to take on the Mustangs this Sunday in what will be the Bearcats’ toughest remaining obstacle in their way of an undefeated season in American play. Cincinnati has now won 14 consecutive games and SMU is 16 of their last 17, with the only blemish being a two point loss to the Bearcats on the road.

Houston (16-7, 7-4 the American) beat UCF 82-64 for the Cougars’ third straight win. Damyean Dotson dropped 31 points on 7-12 from the 3-point line and also led Houston with six rebounds. Matt Williams led the Knights with 26 points. Houston leapfrogged Tulsa in the standings, putting the Cougars in a tie for third, well behind the two top dogs.

Memphis went 1-1 in Florida this week, defeating USF 85-75 and losing to UCF 72-57. Dedric Lawson led the Tigers with 29 points in the win over the Bulls and 28 in the loss to the Knights, while also recording nine and 10 rebounds, respectively. Lawson’s brother, K.J., had an 18 and 10 line against the USF along with an eight and 11 performance against UCF. With Tulsa’s two losses, Memphis is tied for third in the conference with the Cougars.

Tulane and USF continue to struggle at the bottom of the standings. Both the Green Wave (4-19, 1-10 the American) and the Bulls (6-16, 0-11 the American) lost to Temple this week, who entered the week as the closest team to Tulane and USF in conference play. The Owls doubled their conference win total with the victories, moving to 4-7 in the American. Cameron Reynolds scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Tulane in the loss while Temple’s Quinton Rose had 18 and nine. The Green Wave also lost to ECU this week as the Pirates recorded just their third win of the season. Kentrell Barkley had 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Pirates in the victory.

Next week, No. 11 Cincinnati travels to Dallas for a big matchup with No. 25 SMU on Sunday afternoon in what will likely play a big role in conference tournament seeding. Tulsa will continue a brutal schedule, taking on third place teams Memphis and Houston this week.


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