Around the American, Men’s Basketball: Lackluster start for the 6th member of the Power 6

Cincinnati's Justin Jenifer (3) and Trevor Moore (5) react during a game against Ohio State on Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo/AP)

Cincinnati's Justin Jenifer (3) and Trevor Moore (5) react during a game against Ohio State on Wednesday, Nov. 7 in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo/AP)

It’s still early in the season, but the returns on UConn men’s basketball have sure been promising so far. Huskies fans might have reason to scoreboard-watch around the conference for the first time in a few years, so here’s how the rest of the teams in the American have started out their respective seasons:

UCF (1-1)

Preseason favorites UCF started the season off on schedule with an 84-70 victory over Rider, but quickly went off the rails in their second game, where they fell 80-79 in the last second to Conference USA basement-dwellers Florida Atlantic.

Guard BJ Taylor opened up his season with a solid 22-point, four-assist performance against Rider and had an even better performance in his second game, but it wasn’t enough to pull away from the Owls.

Taylor had 29 points against Florida Atlantic, seven of them coming in the second half leading a 12-0 UCF run, but Florida Atlantic would storm back with a run of their own. The Owls would take the lead for the final time with a putback by center Simeon Lepichev with less than a second to go.

UCF will look to rebound this Thursday as they face Cal State Fullerton.

Cincinnati (0-1)

The Bearcats reopened their on-campus arena in disappointing fashion on Wednesday night with a 64-56 loss to Ohio State.

The Buckeyes went in front with 14:52 to go in the first half and never looked back, leading Mick Cronin’s squad by as many as 16 points in the game.

All-Conference guard Jarron Cumberland had 22 points, but no other Cincinnati player was able to reach double digits. As a team, the Bearcats shot a horrid 27 percent from the field and 21 percent from three.

Cincinnati will have a chance to put opening night out of their memory on Tuesday when they face North Carolina Central, ranked 279th in KenPom.

Houston (1-0)

The Cougars played their only game so far this year against Alabama A&M, a team in the cellar of the SWAC, but they did what good teams do and took care of business with a 101-54 victory.

Shooting guard Armoni Brooks looked sharp in his debut in the starting lineup, going 9-13 from the field for 24 points. The 2018 American sixth-man of the year hit a career-best six 3-pointers out of 10 attempts.

Preseason All-Conference guard Corey Davis Jr. also had an efficient showing, hitting 8-of-12 shots for 22 points on the day.

Houston’s next game will come against crosstown rival Rice, 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Memphis (1-0)

Memphis opened up their season with a comfortable 76-61 victory over Tennessee Tech in Penny Hardaway Jr.’s head coaching debut.

Senior forward Kyvon Davenport had a great start to his last season as a Tiger, hitting 11-of-17 shots for 30 points and 10 rebounds while preseason All-Conference guard Jeremiah Martin knocked down 8-of-13 shots for 18 points and tallied two blocks.

Temple (2-0)

Temple notched a pair of victories against La Salle (75-67) and Detroit Mercy (83-67) last week to start out 2-0 on the season.

Temple guard Shizz Alston Jr. paced the Owls with 13 points and eight assists in the first game against La Salle, then exploded against Detroit Mercy with 30 points, five rebounds and four assists, hitting 9-of-17 from the field and 7-of-12 from beyond the arc.

East Carolina (2-1)

Possibly the most surprising start to the 2018 American season has come from East Carolina. Picked to finish last in the conference this year, the Pirates hold victories over Delaware State and Lamar.

Freshman Jayden Gardner has made his mark early in the season, lifting ECU over Lamar in their game Sunday with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Junior forward Seth LeDay has also started the season strongly, averaging 16 points and six rebounds through three games.

Now, here are a couple American games to pay attention to this week:

Memphis at No. 22 LSU, Tuesday, 7 p.m. on the SEC Network

Temple vs. Georgia, Tuesday, 7 p.m. on ESPN3

UConn vs. No. 15 Syracuse, Thursday, 7 p.m. on ESPN2

Temple vs. VCU, Monday, 9:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network


Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.