Nearly everything went as planned this week in the American Athletic Conference. USF and Tulane continued their losing ways while Cincinnati and SMU continued winning. Temple and Houston had especially good weeks while Tulsa predictably flamed out. The Golden Hurricane’s two losses to Cincinnati and SMU were difficult to watch, but the way they lost to the Bearcats was especially heartbreaking. Tulsa blew an 11-point with just six minutes remaining to allow Cincinnati to steal a game in their own gym. Ouch. Let’s take a look at how each team fared.
No. 11 USF (6-16, 0-11) (LW 11)
The lone bright spot for USF last week was freshman Malik Fitts who exploded for a career-high 28 points in the Bulls’ loss to Memphis. Fitts won AAC Rookie of the Week honors for his big game. Other than that, they lost both of their games again, and seem destined to end the conference slate winless.
This week: at Connecticut, vs. East Carolina
No. 10 Tulane (4-19, 1-10) (LW 10)
Tulane lost to the two teams immediately ahead of it in the power rankings, cementing its place here for the foreseeable future.
This week: vs. Houston
No. 9 East Carolina (11-13, 3-8) (LW 9)
The Pirates picked up their second win in two weeks after losing six straight. They beat Tulane 74-65 thanks to 20 points from Caleb White and 18 points from freshman Jeremy Sheppard. ECU has a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way, so they have potential to end the season with an above .500 record for the first time since 2012-2013 when they went 23-12.
This week: at USF
No. 8 Temple (13-11, 4-7) (LW 8)
Temple has now won three of its last four games, beating two teams at the bottom of the conference in Tulane and USF. The Owls needed those two but the real tests are coming this week with rematches against SMU and Memphis. Temple beat Memphis earlier in the season, but lost to SMU. If the Owls can pull out a pair of wins this week it could potentially save their season and put them in position for a postseason run.
This week: vs. SMU, at Memphis
No. 7. UConn (10-12, 5-5) (LW 7)
The Huskies lost convincingly to the Bearcats on Saturday. Cincinnati held a 26-point lead at one point before Connecticut closed the gap to 82-68. Rodney Purvis played well with 20 points on 4-of-7 shooting from behind the three-point line, but UConn just wasn’t playing at the same level as the Bearcats.
This week: vs. USF, at UCF
No. 6 Tulsa (12-10, 6-4) (LW 6)
Tulsa suffered perhaps the most heartbreaking AAC loss of the season when it fell to Cincinnati 57-55 on Wednesday. Tulsa led by 11 points with 6:01 to play and had a 95 percent win probability with under four minutes to play, but still managed to find a way to lose the game. It had the potential to be a signature win for the Golden Hurricane, but a total lack of execution down the stretch sealed their fate. They followed that one with a blowout loss to SMU ending a disappointing week.
This week: at Memphis, vs. Houston
No. 5 UCF (15-8, 6-5) (LW 4)
The Knights split their games this week, losing to Houston on the road before beating Memphis. The Memphis win might have saved their slim hopes for a chance at the NCAA Tournament, but they’ll need to beat Cincinnati this week for any realistic shot. UCF remains one of the more unbalanced teams in the country ranking 17th in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, but just 198th in offensive efficiency.
This week: at Cincinnati, vs. UConn
No. 4 Houston (16-7, 7-4) (LW 5)
Damyean Dotson scored a career-high 31 points to lead Houston over UCF. The Cougars have now won three straight games with two very winnable games on the schedule for this week. Houston has games against both SMU and Cincinnati remaining, which means they still have an outside shot at the NCAA tournament.
This week: at Tulane, at Tulsa
No. 3 Memphis (17-7, 7-4) (LW 3)
Dedric Lawson put on a show in Florida, averaging 28.5 points per game against USF and UCF. The Tigers have been inconsistent this season, losing to three teams in the middle of the AAC pack — Tulsa, Temple and now UCF. They have a chance to redeem both of those losses this week in rematches against Tulsa and Temple.
This week: vs. Tulsa, vs. Temple
No. 2 SMU (20-4, 10-1) (LW 2)
Sterling Brown averaged 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists and won the AAC Player of the Week award while the Mustangs beat both ECU and Tulsa. The Mustangs have now surpassed the Bearcats in KenPom’s rankings, having moved all the way up to 16th in the nation. They also moved into the AP Top 25, ranking 25th, and giving the AAC two teams in the Top 25 for the first time all season.
This week: at Temple, vs. Cincinnati
No. 1 Cincinnati (21-2, 11-0) (LW 1)
The Bearcats had a shocking comeback win against Tulsa, and then easily beat UConn to extend their winning streak to 14 games. Both Gary Clark and Kyle Washington were selected to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll primarily due to their dominant performances against Connecticut. They have two major tests this week when they face Tacko Fall and the UCF Knights, and then travel to SMU for a rematch of their 66-64 victory back on January 12th. KenPom gives the Bearcats just a 34 percent chance of beating the Mustangs on Sunday. That’s the first time they haven’t been favored to win a game since their December 10th game against Butler.
This week: v.s UCF, at SMU