Jarron Cumberland saved his best game of the season for the most important moment, as he led the Cincinnati Bearcats to a 69-57 win over the Houston Cougars in the American Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
Cumberland, who was named AAC Player of the Year earlier in the week, scored a career-high 33 points on 11-of-24 shooting and 11-of-13 from the foul line to carry the Bearcats to their second-straight AAC tournament title. For the second-seeded Bearcats (28-6), the win came with a bit of revenge, as they lost both previous meetings with the top-seeded Cougars, who secured the AAC’s outright regular season championship in Cincinnati last Sunday.
On top of Cumberland’s heroics, the Bearcats also go 15 points from Cane Broome, who drained 3-of-5 three-pointers, and 12 points and eight rebounds from Trevon Scott.
The Bearcats had their own offensive success (45.5 percent shooting, 6-of-17 from three), but it was how they turned it up defensively that won the day. They limited the Cougars to just 30.6 percent efficiency, including a ghastly 8-of-33 performance from three-point range. Houston’s top scorers, Corey Davis Jr. and Armoni Brooks, produced 29 points combined, but went just 5-for-22 from three.
Cincinnati will now wait to see where it will land in the NCAA Tournament bracket, which will be announced later this evening.
Update: The Bearcats were selected as a No. 7 seed and will play No. 10 seed Iowa in the first round on Friday.