Men’s Basketball Around the American: Houston remains undefeated

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Cincinnati's Justin Jenifer (3) and Nysier Brooks (33) celebrate on the bench during a game against Western Michigan on Monday, Nov. 19 in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo/AP)

Cincinnati’s Justin Jenifer (3) and Nysier Brooks (33) celebrate on the bench during a game against Western Michigan on Monday, Nov. 19 in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo/AP)

The last time we checked in with UConn’s conference opponents, they were just getting their feet wet with the rest of the college basketball world, most with only one or two games under their belt. Over halfway through non-conference play, we might not be able to draw concrete conclusions about quality yet, but some teams have gotten off to hotter starts than others.

Houston (4-0)

Houston is the only team in the American without a loss this year, defeating Northwestern State 82-55 and BYU 76-62 in Provo, Utah, after their 79-68 win over crosstown rival Rice.

The Cougars’ offense leads the nation with 1.32 points per possession, and the nuclear start of guards Corey Davis Jr. and Armoni Brooks are a big reason why. They lead the team in scoring with 19.3 and 15.3 points per game apiece and Brooks has hit an absurd 55.6 percent of his threes so far.

Houston is the American’s highest-rated team on KenPom college basketball rankings at No. 37, but won’t get a real test this season until Saturday, when they host Oregon and NBA lottery prospect Bol Bol.

Cincinnati (5-1)

After a disappointing home opener against Ohio State, Cincinnati ripped off a five-game win streak, culminating in a victory in the 71-57 victory against Ole Miss in the Emerald Coast Classic.

Since their first game of the season the Bearcats clamped down on defense, ranking seventh in the nation in opponents’ points per game while keeping every team on their schedule under 50 percent shooting.

All-Conference guard Jarron Cumberland leads the team in scoring with 18.2 points per game, while veteran guard Cane Broome has averaged 11, second-most on the team.

Temple (5-1)

The Owls also have just one loss on the season, 57-51 to VCU last Monday in the first round of the Legends Classic in the Barclays Center, but bounced back nicely one day later with a 76-59 victory over Cal.

Their guard trio of Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis has been dynamite so far this year for the Owls, combining to average 47.8 points per game.

Temple’s most impressive win so far this year came on Nov. 3 against Georgia, where Alston Jr. and Rose went off for 25 points apiece in the game.

The Owls will take on another SEC opponent, Mizzou, this Tuesday.

UCF (5-1)

The conference preseason favorites recovered well from their backbreaking last-second lost to Florida Atlantic in their second game of the year to grab three straight wins against Cal State Fullerton, St. Joseph’s, Western Kentucky and Northern Kentucky.

Preseason player of the year B.J. Taylor has been as advertised so far with 15.5 points per game while shooting 40.9 percent from three and transfer guard Aubrey Dawkins gave the Knights a needed boost, with 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Center Tacko Fall is also rounding into form in the final year of his college career, averaging career-highs in points (11.7), rebounds (7.8), assists (1) and blocks (2.5) per game.

Games to watch this week:

Temple vs. Mizzou, 9 p.m. Tuesday on SEC Network

Alabama vs. UCF, 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPNU

No. 18 Oregon vs. Houston, 9 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2

Arizona vs. UConn, 1 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2


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

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