Men’s Basketball Around the American: Cincinnati rides 7-game winning streak

The Cincinnati Bearcats bench reacts after forward Mamoudou Diarra scores from 3-point range in a game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday, Nov. 27 in Cincinnati. (Sam Greene/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

The Cincinnati Bearcats bench reacts after forward Mamoudou Diarra scores from 3-point range in a game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday, Nov. 27 in Cincinnati. (Sam Greene/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

As the fall semester is coming to a close for students, college basketball is just hitting its stride as most teams have played eight games at this point. While there is still time for growth, the power amongst The American has seemingly been set, with two of the top teams already carrying sizeable winning streaks.

Cincinnati (7-1)

Since dropping their season-opener to Ohio State, Mick Cronin’s Bearcats refuse to lose. Cincinnati has won seven straight games with their most recent victory coming in dominant, almost comical, fashion – a 105-49 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They may not have beaten Duke, but a 56-point margin of victory is unreal and a credit to Cincy’s defense.

As a team, KenPom college basketball rankings has Cincinnati at 37th in the nation, surpassing Houston for the top spot in the conference. Defensively however, the Bearcats are 17th in adjusted-defensive efficiency with a rating of 93.1. Cincy has given up the seventh-fewest points this season (56.5 ppg) and is averaging nearly eight steals a game, all of which are key-aspects in a top-tier defense and winning basketball.

Cincinnati will play host next time out against Northern Kentucky on Tuesday before welcoming in Xavier, a team two years removed from an Elite-Eight appearance, Saturday afternoon.

Houston (6-0)

Houston refuses to lose, winning all six games of this season and have not lost a game on their home floor in 20 contests. Most recently, the Cougars knocked off No. 18 Oregon.

Even though NBA prospect Bol Bol scored 23 and came down with seven boards, Houston was able to prevail against their PAC-12 opponent by a score of 65-61. In the Cougars’ first game ever in the Feritatta Center and in front of the the sell-out crowd of 7,035, star guard Armoni Brooks scored 22 points, while shooting 6-13 from beyond-the-arc and corralled nine rebounds enroute to the win. The American’s Preseason Freshman of the Year, Nate Hilton, scored 15 points while going 5-5 from the free-throw line and added five rebounds to his statline.

The Cougars will put their winning streaks on the line next time out when they host Lamar University on Tuesday before they head to LSU for their last non-conference road game on Saturday.

Temple (7-1)

Temple has enjoyed the best start to a season since 2012 when they went 8-1 before they lost a second game. Most recently, the Owls beat Saint Joseph’s 77-70. It will not continue to be all smooth sailing for the Owls however as they get set for a battle with the defending national champions, Villanova.

Quinton Rose and Shizz Alston Jr. have been the workhorses of Temple’s offense as the two combine for 34 points each game. Rose, a junior, has shot 46 percent from the floor this season and is second on the team with 21 assists. As one of two seniors, Alston Jr. has done what he can thus far to lead his team of young guys as he boasts team bests in 3-point percentage (.371), free-throw percentage (.929) and blocks (3).

Tip-off is set for Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. in Villanova and will be aired on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).

UCF (6-2)

UCF is one of three, two-loss teams in The American and is coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to Missouri. The Knights held a 27-21 lead at the half but watched it slip away when a turnover and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer sent things into overtime. UCF did not score in the final 3:31 of the game as Missouri saw their record improve to 4-3.

B.J Taylor and Tacko Fall continue to make early cases for end of the year, all-conference. Taylor, the preseason conference player of the year, is averaging 16.1 points and two rebounds per game but could see some improvement from his 37 percent field goal percentage. Fall averages over 10 points per game and more than six assists while shooting nearly 80 percent from the floor.

The Knights will host Grambling State this Saturday for some matinee basketball. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. in Orlando.


Kevin Arnold is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kevin.arnold@uconn.edu.