American Athletic Conference teams went 7-1 on Saturday and Sunday to salvage what had been a rough beginning to the week. They were 0-2 against top 25 teams, and Memphis was upset by Monmouth, but as a group, they would ultimately finish the week with a 10-6 mark. Here’s a look at how each team ranks heading into their final non-conference matchups.
No. 11 Tulane (3-7) (LW 11)
Tulane had the week off, and are slated for two winnable non-conference matches this week.
This week: vs. McNeese, vs Texas State
No. 10 East Carolina (7-4) (LW 8)
ECU set the record for fewest points scored in a half in its 53-35 loss to Charleston. It’s the second straight game in which the Pirates were completely embarrassed. B.J. Tyson was held scoreless for only the second time in his career, and ECU shot just 23.4% from the field.
The Pirates are heading in the wrong direction at the worst possible time. ECU opens the conference schedule against USF, SMU, UCF, Temple, Houston, Cincinnati and Connecticut which means there’s a real possibility it could start the conference slate 0-7.
This week: at UNC Wilmington, vs. Presbyterian
No. 9 Tulsa (4-4) (LW 10)
Sophomore Sterling Taplin continued his impressive start to the season by tallying 13 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals in Tulsa’s 74-59 win over Texas State. He continues to fill the stat sheet, and has been the Golden Hurricane’s go-to guy in the clutch repeatedly this season.
Tulsa’s major issue is protecting the basketball. It turned the ball over 21 times against Texas State, and that comes after a game against Oklahoma State in which it had 18 turnovers. KenPom ranks the Golden Hurricane 341st in the nation with a 23.9 turnover percentage.
This week: vs. Stephen F. Austin
No. 8 USF (5-4) (LW 9)
USF avoided a disastrous week by pulling off a miraculous comeback against Bethune Cookman. The Bulls trailed 66-55 with 2:45 remaining before scoring the next 11 points and sending the game to overtime. Geno Thorpe came up big at the free throw line in regulation and overtime helping the Bulls pull out a 79-73 victory.
Sophomore Jahmal McMurray continued his hot start to the season by scoring 20 points against Bethune Cookman and then 25 points in the Bulls’ loss to South Carolina. USF actually had a six point lead at halftime against South Carolina, but were outscored 46-29 in the second half.
This week: vs. Northern Illinois, vs. Delaware
No. 7 UCF (8-3) (LW 7)
The Knights are doing their best to weather the loss of B.J. Taylor, but needed a career performance from Tacko Fall on Sunday to prevent a third straight loss in his absence.
Fall scored a career-high 31 points and added 10 rebounds along with two blocks to lead UCF to an overtime victory over Miami (OH). The Knights had dropped games to Penn and George Washington earlier in the week and desperately needed to pull this one out. The loss to George Washington marked the third time an AAC team has lost to the Colonials this year.
This week: vs. Bethune Cookman
No. 6. UConn (5-5) (LW 6)
UConn easily defeated North Florida on Sunday in its only game of the week. It was a much needed break for the Huskies who are still short-handed thanks to early season injuries. Kentan Facey scored a career-high 20 points and added nine rebounds along with four blocks, and Jalen Adams scored 13 points and added five rebounds and 10 assists in the victory. Adams only committed one turnover in the game — a significant accomplishment for the sophomore who’s had trouble protecting the ball this season.
The Huskies have played much better of late, and seem to have figured out a formula that will at least keep them competitive going into conference play.
This week: vs. Auburn
No. 5 Temple (8-4) (LW 2)
Temple lost to No. 1 Villanova before barely beating NJIT last week. Temple was easily defeated by Villanova, 78-57 as the Owls made it to the free throw line just six times in the game. The slim victory over NJIT seems more concerning than the loss to Villanova though. NJIT entered the game as just the 208th ranked team according to KenPom. Temple has played inconsistently all season long. They’ve beaten two top 25 teams in Florida State and West Virginia, but lost to New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
This week: vs. Yale
No. 4 Memphis (8-3) (LW 3)
Memphis had the most impressive win of the week when it went into Norman and beat Oklahoma 99-94 in overtime. The Tigers avenged a loss to Oklahoma last season behind Dedric Lawson’s 26 points and 10 rebounds. However, a loss to Monmouth earlier in the week keeps Memphis from moving up the rankings. The Tigers blew a 10-point halftime lead in the loss to Monmouth.
This week: vs. Incarnate Word
No. 3 Houston (8-2) (LW 5)
Senior Damyean Dotson scored 25 points in the Cougars’ 83-58 win over UT Rio Grande Valley. Houston has won three of its past four games, including a victory over a very good Rhode Island team (Yes, the same one that beat UC earlier). Offensively, the Cougars might be the most efficient team in the conference. They shoot the ball well, don’t turn it over ofte, and are ranked 28th in country in offensive rebounding percentage according to KenPom. They have at least one good test this week when Harvard visits on Friday.
This week: vs. Liberty, vs Harvard
No. 2 SMU (8-3) (LW 4)
All five starters scored in double figures for the Mustangs as they scored a season-high 92 points against McNeese State on Wednesday. SMU out-rebounded McNeese 51-31 and hit 12 three pointers in the victory. Shake Milton led the Mustangs to their fourth straight win with 17 points and seven rebounds and Sterling Brown added 10 points, 10 rebound, and six assists.
This week: vs. Stanford, vs. Albany
No. 1 Cincinnati (9-2) (LW 1)
The Bearcats absolutely dominated both Texas Southern and Fairleigh Dickinson this week. Both games were season-highs in points scored and margin of victory. The Cincinnati bench is peaking at just the right time with Jarron Cumberland and Justin Jenifer giving the Bearcats much needed depth as they head into conference play. Cincinnati shot 64.7% from the floor against Fairleigh Dickinson en route to scoring an AAC record 119 points.
This week: vs. Marshall