Around the American: Huskies seek redemption

Connecticut's Christian Vital, left, and Jalen Adams, right, smile during final seconds of an NCAA college basketball game against SMU, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The American Athletic Conference (AAC) has made plenty of noise in college basketball recently. While we look back at the great games the past week has given us, we will also look forward to the next week’s marquee matchups in this edition of Around the American.

After surprising losses to SMU and Houston last week, Wichita State seems to be back to their old selves again after handily beating UCF and Tulsa each by 19. Star point guard Landry Shamet scored four points on 2-of-9 shooting (0-6 from three) against UCF on Thursday, and had six points on one of eight shooting (0-6 from three again) against Tulsa on Sunday. Though Shamet has been struggling to find his shot, the Shockers have plenty of talented and experienced players to keep the team afloat.

Wichita State sports perhaps the deepest roster in college basketball, and proved it over the last two games. The Shockers bench has outscored their starters 50-31 and 51-39 in these wins over UCF and Tulsa, respectively. If Shamet’s teammates can keep up the production as he finds his shot, the Shockers should be one of the top teams in college basketball. They have improved their record to 17-4 (7-2 in the AAC) and have moved up one spot in the AP Top 25, going from 17 to 16. They should continue to find success in their next matchup with Temple on Thursday.

Cincinnati kept on dominating the conference with double-digit wins over Temple and Memphis. The Bearcats beat Temple by 33 on Wednesday and didn’t allow any player for the Owls to record more than seven points. They shot 28.6 percent from the field as a team compared to Cincinnati’s 43.1 percent. Gary Clark led the way for Cincy, recording 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. He also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

Cincinnati’s win over Memphis came on Saturday by a score of 62-48. Clark was once again the leading scorer with 18 points and nine rebounds. Jacob Evans added 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in just 20 minutes. Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin scored a game-high 20 points on 5-of-13 shooting. The Bearcats are as hot as you can be. They haven’t lost since Dec. 9, are on a 12-game win streak, and have moved up to No. 8 in the AP Top 25. The Bearcats’ next game will not be an easy one, as they face conference foe Houston on Wednesday. This is the first time that they will see each other this season.

While Houston is unranked in the AP Top 25, they have been receiving votes lately due to their upset win over Wichita State last week. More recently, they beat USF by 23 on Sunday. Corey Davis Jr. led the way for Houston with 17 points, while making four threes. Senior Rob Gray had only two points on 1-of-7 shooting, but also recorded six rebounds and six assists with no turnovers in 24 minutes. Freshman forward Fabian White Jr. had 16 points and 11 rebounds off of the bench for the Cougars.

A win over Cincinnati on Wednesday would more than likely mean a spot on the AP Top 25 for Houston. This would mean that Cincinnati, Wichita State and Houston would all hold spots in the AP Top 25, which would earn some respect for teams in the AAC.

The Huskies and the Mustangs each followed their Thursday night matchup with Sunday blowouts. SMU blew out East Carolina at home 86-61 thanks to 20-point games from sophomore Jimmy Whitt and junior Jahmal McMurray. The pair of guards shot 9-of-11 and 8-of-12 from the field, respectively, with the latter sinking four three-pointers. Every starter for SMU scored in double digits while playing 36 or less minutes. SMU will play their next game on Thursday at Tulsa. East Carolina will look to bounce back at home against Tulane on Wednesday.

On the other hand, UConn suffered an 85-57 loss at the hands of Temple in Philadelphia. The Huskies saw their two best scorers Christian Vital and Jalen Adams go a combined 5-of-24 from the field with 22 points. In what was an ugly blowout, Temple won the turnover battle with five turnovers to UConn’s 16. UConn will have a chance at redemption on Wednesday night at UCF.


Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sean.janos@uconn.edu.