Around the American: Seeding shaken up ahead of conference tournament

Jalen Adams looks for a passing lane during the Huskies 67-47 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)  

With the final week of the regular season, the American Athletic Conference standings have been finalized. Only two upsets took place this week but they were enough to shake up the seeding ahead of the AAC Tournament.

SMU breezed through two teams in the middle of the standings, Memphis and Tulsa, to clinch the No. 1 seed for the AAC Tournament. The Mustangs (27-4, 17-1 the American) defeated Tulsa 93-70 on Thursday before beating Memphis 103-62 on Saturday. Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown led SMU, both scoring 26 points in one game and 19 in the other. The Mustangs come in at No. 12 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll.

Cincinnati also dominated two teams in the top half of the American but unfortunately for the Bearcats they couldn’t catch SMU and will be seeded No. 2 in the tournament. The Bearcats (24-7, 16-2 the American) beat Houston 65-47 and defeated UConn 67-47. Gary Clark led the team in points in both games with 14 against the Cougars and 17 against the Huskies. Clark also grabbed 14 rebounds at UConn for a double-double, leading Cincinnati to a No. 15 ranking in the AP Top 25 Poll this week.

Elsewhere, Tulane played the role of spoiler, defeating Tulsa in the final game of the regular season to deny the Golden Hurricane the sixth seed for the AAC Tournament. Cameron Reynolds poured in 31 points for the Green Wave in the 81-69 victory. The Tulsa loss ensures that UConn gets the sixth seed and the right to play 7-22 USF, despite the Huskies losing their final four games down the stretch. Tulsa will have a shot at redemption, as they play Tulane again in the first round of the AAC Tournament.

UCF finished the season strong, beating USF 59-56 for their fifth straight victory. The Knights (20-10, 11-7 the American) survived a scare with 20 points from Matt Williams and 17 from B.J. Taylor. UCF earned the No. 4 seed and a bye in the first round, so the Knights will try to maintain their momentum with a second round matchup against Memphis.

East Carolina and Temple will face off in the first round of the tournament for the opportunity to play SMU. The Owls ended the season on a two-game winning streak, beating USF 72-60 this week thanks to four players scoring 13 or more points. ECU upset UConn on Wednesday before falling to Houston on Sunday afternoon. Caleb White and Kentrell Barkley combined for 46 points in the Pirates’ win over the Huskies.

With the conclusion of the regular season, teams will head to Hartford for the AAC Tournament. The Tournament starts on Thursday afternoon and concludes with the Championship Game at 3:15 p.m. on Selection Sunday.


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