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AAC Basketball Power Rankings: Week Three

Where do the Bearcats rank after a busy week of AAC action?

NCAA Basketball: NIT Season Tip-Off-Temple vs West Virginia Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the first couple of weeks of the college basketball season have proven anything, it’s that the American Athletic Conference is going to be very competitive. With the exception of Tulane, each of the remaining 10 teams in the conference have shown flashes of being difficult to beat. Teams picked to finish in the middle of the pack like Temple, UCF and East Carolina are a combined 13-5, while the top three teams in the standings (Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati) are currently 15-2. Here’s a look at how each team fared last week.

No. 11 Tulane (1-5)

Tulane only lost once last week after being swept out of the Tire Pros Invitational with three straight losses the week before. The Green Wave lost to Georgia Tech 82-68 on Saturday night thanks to Georgia Tech freshman guard Josh Okogie. Okogie set the freshman scoring record for the Yellow Jackets with 38 points in 34 minutes. Cameron Reynolds led the way for Tulane with 20 points, but the Green Wave were out rebounded 40-27 and were never really in the game.

This week: at New Orleans, vs. St. Johns

No. 10 USF (2-2)

USF lost to Florida Atlantic 78-62 on Tuesday night to fall to 2-2 on the season. The Bulls were led once again by redshirt freshman Tulio Da Silva who scored 14 points and added 10 rebounds in the losing effort. Da Silva has been the lone bright spot for USF so far this year averaging 11.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

This week: vs. Kennesaw State, at Troy, at George Washington

No. 9 Tulsa (2-2)

Don’t look now, but Tulsa might be a bit frisky. The Golden Hurricane easily defeated Oregon State Tuesday night 75-64. Tulsa was a tournament team last year, but are widely expected to struggle this season thanks to a roster featuring 10 new players. Rutgers transfer Junior Etou has been the offensive leader for the team so far, averaging 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds through the first four games.

This week: at Oral Roberts, at Little Rock

No. 8 East Carolina (5-2)

ECU finished third in the Savannah Invitational by beating Air Force 70-63 on Saturday night. The Pirates lost to Mercer 70-66 the previous night forcing them into the third place game. Overall it’s been a successful start to the season for the Pirates who have three players averaging in double figures with Caleb White (16.0), B. J. Tyson (14.4) and Kentrell Barkley (13.1). Barkley has been especially impressive in wins over Stetson and Florida A&M as well as the loss to Mercer where he’s filled up the box score with points, rebounds, assists and steals.

This week: vs. Hampton, vs. North Carolina Central

No. 7. UCF (4-1)

The Knights surprised everyone with a very competitive game against No. 3 Villanova last Sunday in the Charleston Classic. UCF fell 67-57 in the game, but earned its way to that point with a pair of 20-point wins over Mississippi State and Charleston. The Knights beat Seattle on Saturday to improve to 4-1 behind the continued stellar play of Tacko Fall. The 7-6 sophomore center from Senegal is averaging 15.2 points, 13 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.

This week: vs. Stetson, at UMass

No. 6. UConn (2-4)

A brutal start to the non-conference schedule coupled with a crushing injury to sophomore transfer Terry Larrier has UConn reeling to start the season. The Huskies were only able to pull out one victory in the Mau Invitational, and it was a hotly contested match against Chaminade. Jalen Adams has been an absolute stud so far this year, and UConn has plenty of time to sort out how it will replace Larrier, but it will be an uphill battle from here on out. Adams averaged 29 points, 6 rebounds and 7.3 assists in Maui while senior backcourt mate Rodney Purvis chipped in nearly 19 points per game.

This week: vs. Boston, vs. No. 18 Syracuse

No. 5 SMU (4-2)

The Mustangs split a pair of games last week, beating UC Santa Barbabra and then losing to undefeated USC. SMU has five players averaging double figures right now, and had a real shot to pull out the win at USC on Friday. However, USC hit 12 threes and put up 50 points in the second half to bury SMU’s comeback attempt. Semi Ojeleye, a junior transfer from Duke, is shooting 50% from three, and averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds to lead the Mustangs so far this season.

This week: at Boise State, vs. CSU Bakersfield, vs. Delaware State

No. 4 Memphis (5-1)

Memphis went 2-1 last week, with wins over McNeese and Iowa and a loss to Providence. The Providence loss was in the first round of the Emerald Coast Classic where they Tigers would eventually finish third. They were held to a season-low 51 points as they shot just 35% from the field against the Friars. The Tigers followed that up by dropping 100 points on Iowa in a win on Saturday. Sophomore Dedric Lawson scored 35 points in the win, raising his average to 22.8 points per game to go along with 11.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

This week: vs. Jackson State, at Ole Miss

No. 3 Houston (5-0)

The Cougars went 4-0 last week with victories over George Mason, South Dakota, Vermont and Cornell. The Cougars beat Vermont 72-71 on a last-second shot by Devin Davis that gave Houston the Gulf Coast Showcase championship. It was the first regular season championship for Houston since 1971. All of these games serve as a warmup for the Cougars first difficult game of the year when they face LSU on Tuesday night.

This week: at LSU, vs. Prairie View A&M

No. 2 Cincinnati (5-1)

The Bearcats took care of both Samford and Lipscomb last week to improve to 5-1. Kyle Washington and Jacob Evans continue to lead the way for the Bearcats, who also saw significant contributions from their freshman in the 91-68 win over Lipscomb on Saturday night. UC’s main concern right now is whether an ankle injury to Gary Clark, last year’s American Defensive Player of the Year, will be serious enough to keep him out of their big game against Iowa State this week.

This week: at No. 21 Iowa State, vs. Bowling Green

No. 1 Temple (4-2)

Temple surprised the college basketball world by winning the NIT Season Tip-Off with victories over a pair of Top 25 ranked opponents last week. The Owls beat No. 25 ranked Florida State on Thursday and then followed that up with an 81-77 upset of No. 19 ranked West Virginia on Friday. Obi Enechionya averaged 19 points and hit 7-of-10 three pointers with 11 blocked shots between the two games. Enechionya’s jump in production to start the season has proven to be the real difference maker for the Owls.

This week: at Saint Joseph’s, vs Penn