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AAC Basketball Power Rankings: Week 9

Cincinnati and SMU are No. 1 and No. 2 and face off this week.

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The favorites won eight out of nine games in American Athletic Conference action this week, as a very clear line begins to develop between the top half of the league and the bottom half. Predictably, Connecticut was the only underdog to win when it beat UCF at home in the final game of the week. UConn is the most difficult team in the conference to figure out. The Huskies urrently have a 6-9 record, but have the talent to compete for a top four or five spot in the conference. They’ve played a difficult schedule and have been decimated by injuries, but nobody would be surprised if they put a run together and challenge the top four of the conference.

No. 11 Tulane (3-12, 0-3) (LW 11)

Tulane lost its fifth game in a row on Sunday, when Memphis beat the Green Wave 80-59. Sophomores Melvin Frazier and Kain Harris each scored 15 points, but the Green Wave were never seriously in this game and looked completely overmatched. Perhaps their best chance for another win this season is coming up when they visit the second-worst team in the conference USF on Wednesday.

This week: at USF, vs. SMU

No. 10 USF (6-8, 0-2) (LW 10)

USF lost its third game in a row, while sophomore Troy Holston scored 20 points on six three pointers against SMU on Saturday. The Bulls fired head coach Orlando Antigua earlier in the week as the program looks for a fresh start. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for the program, with sophomore Jahmal McMurray deciding to transfer and the firing of Antigua. The Bulls will face Tulane on Wednesday in a battle for the AAC basement.

This week: vs. Tulane, at Memphis

No. 9 East Carolina (9-8, 1-3) (LW 9)

ECU lost both of its games this week, but showed admirable grit in its game against UCF by climbing back from a 17-point deficit in the final six minutes. The Pirates shot just 26.7 percent from the floor against UCF. They scored just 22 points in the first 35 minutes of the game and 23 points in the final five minutes.

The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Pirates, as they face two of the top four teams in the conference this week in Houston and Cincinnati.

This week: vs. Houston, vs. Cincinnati

No. 8. UConn (6-9, 1-3) (LW 8)

The Huskies split their games this week by losing on the road to Memphis and then beating UCF at home. The win against UCF stopped a four-game losing streak, and gave the team its first conference win of the season.

UCF entered the game 12-3 and fresh of a 24-point victory over Temple the prior week, so UConn’s 15-point victory was a bit of a surprise. The Huskies totally neutralized Tacko Fall who didn’t score a point and had just three rebounds.

Unfortunately, the Huskies have a killer upcoming schedule that will likely prevent them from using this win as a momentum builder. They’ll face Temple and Georgetown this week, before battling SMU the next week. If they can win the two conference games over the stretch it might be enough to propel them back into the thick of the conference race.

This week: vs. Temple, at Georgetown

No. 7 Tulsa (7-7, 1-1) (LW 7)

Tulsa went into Houston and nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the week before ultimately falling to the Cougars 64-61. Corey Henderson Jr. scored a career-high 16 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough for the Golden Hurricane to hold off Houston. Tulsa hit 20-of-22 free throws, but a missed three pointer by Henderson with four seconds remaining sealed the decision.

This week: vs. Memphis, at Temple

No. 6 Temple (10-7, 1-3) (LW 6)

The Owls opened the season with three difficult games against Cincinnati, UCF and SMU. They dropped all three games before finally getting their first conference win against ECU on Saturday. The Owls shot 53.2 percent from the field against ECU as Daniel Dingle scored 19 points to lead Temple. It was a much needed win for a team that has been up and down all season long. They’ll face UConn and Tulsa this week before a rematch against Cincinnati the following week.

This week: at UConn, vs. Tulsa

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 UCF (12-4, 3-1) (LW 5)

The Knights had their five game winning streak snapped when UConn easily defeated them 64-49 on Sunday. Fall had his second consecutive scoreless game and is averaging just 6.0 points per game in conference play after averaging 15.9 points per game in non-conference action.

This week: vs. Houston

No. 4 Houston (12-4, 3-1) (LW 3)

Houston had a tough week by barely beating Tulsa early in the week before losing to Cincinnati at home on Saturday. The Cougars played without star guard Rob Gray Jr. in the Tulsa game. Gray was held out because of the flu against Tulsa, but was active for Cincinnati. The junior guard scored 21 points and tallied four rebounds against the Bearcats. However, the Cougars shot just 3-of-19 from three point range against Cincinnati and accumulated only six assists.

This week: at ECU, at UCF

No. 3 Memphis (12-4, 2-1) (LW 4)

The Tigers took care of business this week, beating both UConn and Tulane. Dedric Lawson scored 24 points and added 10 rebounds, three assists and five blocks in the win over Tulane. The sophomore is averaging a ridiculous 20.4 points per game, 11.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season.

This is the calm before the storm for the Tigers who face Tulsa and USF this week before beginning a very difficult three game stretch against Houston, UCF and Temple.

This week: at Tulsa, vs. USF

No. 2 SMU (14-3, 4-0) (LW 2)

SMU extended its winning streak to 10 games by easily taking care of both Temple and USF at home. Semi Ojeleye averaged 20 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two wins and put himself in position to potentially win AAC Player of the Week. The Mustangs travel to Cincinnati for a matchup between the top two teams in the conference on Thursday.

This week: at Cincinnati, at Tulane

No. 1 Cincinnati (13-2, 3-0) (LW 1)

The Bearcats picked up their third big road win of the season when they traveled to Houston and beat the Cougars 67-58. All five starting Bearcats scored in double figures and Cincinnati hit 10 three pointers for the second consecutive game. Most encouraging for Cincinnati was the play of Kyle Washington who scored 19 points and added nine rebounds in the victory. Washington had struggled over the past month, but managed to play terrific both offensively and defensively on Saturday. Up next is the marquee match-up of the week when the Bearcats host SMU on Thursday.

This week: vs. SMU, at ECU