The American Athletic Conference had another week of action-packed basketball

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Houston guard Nate Hinton (11) drives around Connecticut guard Christian Vital (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Houston guard Nate Hinton (11) drives around Connecticut guard Christian Vital (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Thursday saw UConn (10-9) lose to No. 21 Houston (16-4) 63-59 in what was a highly intense contest. Christian Vital accounted for most of the teams points, putting up 14 along with Isaiah Whaley, who finished the game with 13 points, four steals and 11 rebounds. However, the Huskies were once again plagued by their inability to close out games, and although they led throughout a large portion of the second half, they were not able to stop a Cougar comeback that ultimately gave them the victory, with Caleb Mills accounting for 20 points off the bench alongside Dejon Jarreau’s 18 points and eight assists.  

Saturday saw the unranked SMU Mustangs (15-4) beat the No. 20 Memphis Tigers (14-5) 74-70. The Mustangs continue to show their dominance in conference play, in large part due to the performances of Kendric Davis, Emmanuel Bandoumel, Isiaha Mike and Tyson Jolly, with these starters playing a major part in the team’s victory. Davis accounted for 20 points and five assists, while Bandoumel put up 14 points alongside four rebounds. Mike’s 13 and Jolly’s 10 points, respectively, only added onto an already hindered Memphis squad. D.J. Jeffries’ 18 points and Precious Achiuwa’s 15 points, along with Boogie Ellis’s 14 points off the bench, all went in vain for the Tigers.  

Wichita State (17-3) were also able to beat UCF (11-8) 87-79 behind Dexter Dennis’s 18 points and 11 rebounds. Temple fell to 10-9 after their loss to Pennsylvania by a margin of 66-59; AJ Brodeur’s 19 points were vital for the Quakers, who now stand at 8-7. Also, Jayden Gardner’s 27 points were enough for East Carolina (9-11) to beat Tulane (10-9) by a score of 81-62. 

Sunday saw UConn (10-9) lose to Tulsa (14-6) in overtime by a score of 79-75. The same ghosts came back to haunt the Huskies, once again finding it difficult to maintain their composure and effectively close out the game. Akok Akok played an absolutely enormous part in the Huskies even being in the game with his 13 points, seven blocks and seven rebounds. Most importantly, however, was his screen to give Christian Vital an open look from beyond the arc, subsequently being fouled and tying it up from the free-throw line. James Bouknight also had a strong performance, putting up 16 points alongside Christian Vital’s 11 points. Sidney Wilson also had a strong impact off the bench, putting up 12 points and grabbing seven boards. Despite their best efforts, however, Tulsa’s bench presence was just too much for the Huskies. Martins Igbanu’s 28 points and 10 rebounds, alongside Darien Jackson’s 14 points, helped put the game out of reach.  

No. 21 Houston beat South Florida (8-12) 68-49, once again behind the efforts of Dejon Jarreau, who put up 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. Fabian White Jr. was also able to put 11 points, and Caleb Mills bench presence once again proved to be a problem for the opposition, scoring 11 points. 

The SMU Mustangs will look to continue their hot streak in conference and prove they are a force to be reckoned with as they take Cincinnati (12-7). Wednesday will see No. 21 Houston take on East Carolina (9-11) as they look to continue to climb higher in the rankings. No. 14 Memphis will look to bounce back against a solid UCF team, while UConn faces Temple with both looking to get back to winning ways. Finally, South Florida faces Tulane, with both still looking to get something out of their seasons. 

Thumbnail photo: Connecticut forward Isaiah Whaley (5) looks to pass the ball as Houston center Brison Gresham, right, reaches in during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)


Sebastian Garay-Ortega is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached at sebastian.garay-ortega@uconn.edu. He tweets @sebastian__305.

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