Around the American Men’s Basketball: Houston, Cincinnati stay on top with wins over USF and Wichita State

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Houston’s Galen Robinson Jr. (25) and South Florida’s Laquincy Rideau, left, scramble for a loose ball during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

The American Athletic Conference has been almost dormant in the past week with no games on Thursday, Friday, Sunday or Monday. Fortunately, the one day that had action, Saturday, had a lot of it. In addition to UConn’s 87-71 spanking of Tulane, there were other conference matchups as well as a key game in the Philadelphia Big 5. Let’s get everyone caught up with this past Saturday’s action around the American.

No. 21 Houston: 69 USF: 60

The Houston Cougars moved to 18-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play on Saturday in an ugly win over the USF Bulls (12-6, 2-4 American). Neither team played particularly well as USF shot an abysmal 31.8 percent from the field, and Houston wasn’t much better at 40.4 percent.

There were a total of 62 fouls called in the game and 35 turnovers, so it’s fair to say that neither team was fundamentally sound in this one.

However, Houston found a way to win and it was truly a team effort. Every Cougar that touched the floor recorded a point. Senior forward Breaon Brady led the way with 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Armoni Brooks and Nate Hinton also added to the win with double-digit points, scoring 11 and 10, respectively.

For the Bulls, it was sophomore center David Collins who provided most of the scoring. He put up 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, but it wasn’t enough as USF failed to take advantage of their 41 free throw attempts, only hitting 27 of them.

Cincinnati: 66 Wichita State: 55

This game was a lot closer than the final score shows. The Wichita State Shockers (8-9, 1-4 American) went toe to toe with the conference-leading Cincinnati Bearcats (16-3, 5-1 American) until two technical fouls late in the second half by Wichita State gave Cincinnati six straight free throws and an 11-point lead, from which the Shockers would never recover. The win kept Cincinnati tied with Houston for the conference lead.

Junior Jarron Cumberland was the leading scorer for the Bearcats with 18 points, and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Justin Jenifer tallied 17 points, and Keith Williams added 14 more to round out the top of the Cincinnati scoresheet.

As in most games this season, the top player for the Shockers was senior Markis McDuffie, who put up 21 points and three assists for his fourth consecutive 20-point game. Samajae Haynes-Jones added 11 points in the losing effort.

Penn: 77 Temple: 70

Though not a conference matchup, this was a big game in the historic Philadelphia Big 5 tournament. The Penn Quakers (11-6) handed the Temple Owls (14-4, 4-1 American) just their fourth loss of the season to clinch at least a share of the Big 5 title with Villanova and a chance to win it outright if they beat La Salle this weekend. Temple finished Big 5 play with a 2-2 record this year.

Even in the loss, senior big man Ernest Aflakpui was a monster for the Owls, recording a double double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Shizz Alston Jr. had a nice game as well with 14 points and six assists.

This was the first time Temple lost to Penn in their last 11 meetings. AJ Brodeur led the way for the Quakers with 16 points and seven rebounds.

UCF: 64 Tulsa: 62

The UCF Knights (14-3, 4-1 American) held off the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (12-7, 2-4 American) despite not recording a field goal in the last six minutes of the game.

Tulsa led most of the first half and went into halftime with a nine-point lead. Then, UCF battled back in the second half and took a seven-point lead behind a 19-5 run. The Knights scored their last 11 points via the free throw line and B.J. Taylor had six of the 11.

Taylor led UCF with 15 points and Collin Smith was right behind him with 13. Tacko Fall and Aubrey Dawkins each added 12 points to the winning effort. The Knights had to rely on their big men and free throw shooting in this game, as they shot only 20 percent from three-point range.

Although they shot a better percentage, the Golden Hurricanes could not complete the late game comeback and fell just short. Senior DaQuan Jeffries led Tulsa with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sterling Taplin scored 14 points in the loss.


Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.barletta@uconn.edu .

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