American Athletic Conference teams went 10-8 last week. The best win belongs to SMU, who demolished Stanford 72-49 on Monday. Nobody played a ranked opponent, but several teams lost to quality competition. We’re headed into conference play with only one ranked AAC team, and that might not change any time soon.
No. 11 Tulane (3-9) (LW 11)
Tulane lost home games to both McNeese and Texas State last week. They’ll enter conference play at just 3-9 and with very few (no?) winnable games in front of them. The Texas State game was especially painful. Tulane held a 60-57 in the final seconds of regulation before Kavin Gilder-Tilbury hit a three pointer to send the game into overtime. In overtime, Bobby Conley hit a three pointer with just 38 seconds remaining to give Texas State the win.
This week: vs. Central Florida, at Cincinnati
No. 10 East Carolina (8-5) (LW 10)
ECU lost to a very good UNC Wilmington team earlier in the week, before breaking a three-game losing street in their win over Presbyterian. The Pirates held their own against UNC Wilmington in the 81-71 loss. Both B.J. Tyson and Jeremy Sheppard played relatively well, but they received very little support from their front court. Guards accounted for 61 of the Pirates 71 points in the loss.
Presbyterian ranks as the fifth-worst team in all of college basketball according to KenPom, so its difficult to give the Pirates much credit for their victory. Sophomore, Kentrell Barkley had 12 points and ten rebounds in the win and freshman Jeremy Sheppard added 11 points and six assists. It was the fifth game in a row that Sheppard scored in double figures.
This week: vs. USF, vs SMU
No. 9 Tulsa (6-6) (LW 10)
Tulsa was easily defeated twice in the Diamond Head Classic. unior Etou was the lone bright spot last week. He scored 18 points in the 86-63 loss to San Diego State and 22 points in the 68-56 loss to Illinois State. It was actually the second time this month Tulsa faced Illinois State. Tulsa won 70-68 back on December 7th, but Illinois State jumped out to a big lead in this game and the Golden Hurricane never recovered.
This week: vs. Connecticut, at Houston
No. 8 USF (6-5) (LW 8)
USF split their games this week, losing to Northern Illinois, before beating Delaware on Thursday. The Bulls shot 34 free throws to Delaware’s 13 in the 81-53 victory. Freshman Tulio Da Silva had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Geno Thorpe added 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the free throw line against Delaware.
Thorpe has struggled of late for South Florida. He averaged 16.3 points per game through his first six games but just 9.8 points per game since.
This week: at ECU, vs. Houston
No. 7. UConn (5-6) (LW 6)
UConn suffered a tough overtime loss to Auburn on Friday. The Huskies trailed by six points with less than 90 seconds remaining before storming back to tie the game 60-60 on an Amida Brimah jumper. They had a chance to tie the game again in overtime, but Rodney Purvis missed two three pointers in the last five seconds to seal the loss.
Purvis scored 20 points in the game, but shot just 5-of-22 from the field, including 1-of-13 from three point range. Freshman Christian Vital played 35 minutes, and scored just three points. The Huskies have to getter production from him moving forward if they’re really going to compete in the AAC.
This week: vs. Houston, at Tulsa
No. 6 UCF (9-3) (LW 7)
The Knights dominated lowly Bethune Cookman in a 71-41 win on Wednesday. Freshman Tacko Fall scored 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting and added 12 rebounds and two blocks. Chad Brown added a career-high 13 points and seven rebounds in the win. The Knights might be one of the most underrated teams in the country. They have the perfect blend of youth and senior leadership and could definitely sneak into the tournament with a good showing in conference play.
This week: at Tulane, vs. Temple
No. 5 Temple (9-4) (LW 5)
Temple salvaged a terrible shooting performance from the field, with a spectacular performance from the free throw line. The Owls shot 28-30 from the line, and freshman Alani Moore II scored a career-high 26 points to fend off a quality Yale team.
Obi Enechionyia had a season-low three points on just 1-of-11 shooting. He’s averaging just 8.0 points per game over the Owls last three contest after averaging 18.6 to start the season.
Temple has perhaps the toughest start to the conference slate with Cincinnati, UCF and SMU next on the schedule.
This week: vs. Cincinnati, at UCF
No. 4 Houston (9-3) (LW 3)
Houston’s week was ruined when they dropped a nine point lead in the final six minutes to allow Harvard to come back and steal a victory. The Cougars had beaten Liberty easily earlier in the week, but Rob Gray Jr.’s missed jumper with two seconds left sealed their fate against Harvard.
Gray Jr. was the only Houston player to score in double figures against Harvard, but he did it on 6-of-21 shooting. As a team, the Cougars shot just 33.3 percent from the field and made just one shot in the final six minutes.
This week: at Connecticut, at South Florida
No. 3 Memphis (9-3) (LW 4)
K.J. and Dedric Lawson led Memphis to an easy 95-71 win over Incarnate Word on Wednesday. Dedric tallied 25 points, 12 rebounds and added four assists while K.J scored 20 points to go with 12 rebounds and four assists in the victory. Perhaps most encouraging from Memphis was the play of freshman Keon Clergeot, who scored 23 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three point range.
Memphis has rebounded nicely from its lost to Monmouth a couple of weeks ago, but have two very difficult games on the schedule this week against SMU and South Carolina.
This week: vs. SMU, vs. South Carolina
No. 2 SMU (10-3) (LW 2)
SMU was the only AAC team to truly take care of business last week. The Mustangs won both of their games easily, including a 72-49 romp over a solid Stanford team. Semi Ojeleye found his shooting touch again, scoring 13 points against Stanford and 28 points against Albany.
The Mustangs have clearly established themselves as the second best team in the AAC, and could potentially work their way into the top 25 if they can continue to play this well.
This week: at Memphis, at East Carolina
No. 1 Cincinnati (10-2) (LW 1)
The Bearcats trailed Marshall by 15 points, but stormed back to tie the game in regulation thanks to a Jacob Evans three pointer with 10 seconds remaining. Marshall made 17 three pointers, setting the record for most three pointers by a Cincinnati opponent, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Bearcats.
Troy Caupain scored the winning basket with under a second remaining in overtime to give the Bearcats a three game winning streak heading into conference play. Caupain shot just 3-of-14 from the field, but added 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals in the victory. Gary Clark was a problem for the opposing side, as usual, scoring 26 points and adding 10 rebounds while Evans tied his season-high with 25 points.
This week: at Temple, vs. Tulane