Houston, Kelvin Sampson, American Athletic Conference

American Athletic Conference has a battle at the top for the top five spots.

Houston sits proudly at the top after a significant win. SMU grabbed a win that puts the Mustangs firmly at second in the conference while two teams battle for third place and two more for fifth place. Three massive games this week as Memphis plays Temple, SMU is at Houston, and Tulane goes to Temple. These games have repercussions that could make this week shake up the standings.

This week’s winners:

  • Houston Cougars/coach Sampson
  • Temple Owls/coach McKie

This week’s losers:

  • Cincinnati Bearcats/coach Miller
  • USF Bulls/coach Gregory

This week’s matchups:

Wednesday – 2/23

  • USF @ ECU at 6 p.m. CST
  • Houston @ Tulane at 7 p.m. CST
  • Tulsa @ SMU at 7 p.m. CST
  • Cincinnati @ UCF at 8 p.m. CST

Thursday – 2/24

  • Temple @ Memphis at 6 p.m. CST

Saturday – 2/26

  • Tulsa @ ECU at 3 p.m. CST
  • USF @ Cincinnati at 6 p.m. CST

Sunday – 2/27

  • SMU @ Houston at 11:30 a.m. CST
  • Wichita State @ Memphis at 1:30 p.m. CST
  • Tulane @ Temple at 2 p.m. CST

Cincinnati Bearcats (7-7)

Cincinnati basketball had three games this week but could only come away with one win.

The Bearcats’ first game was against Memphis, where the team took a tough loss coming up short 81-74. Cincinnati was aggressive on the boards to outbound Memphis, went after the Tigers’ weakness, and got to the free-throw line to keep the game competitive. Cincinnati basketball did a pretty excellent job of not turning the ball over. However, the size of the Bearcats was an issue as Memphis beat the team out in blocks and grabbed more steals. Cincinnati had an off-shooting day, only making 35.9% from the field and an abysmal 24.1% from the 3-point range.

Cincinnati basketball moved the ball much better in the Bearcats’ second game of the week and shot the ball very well. An 85-76 win over the Shockers, the ball movement, and the ability to make its shots created this Cincinnati win. Wichita State crashed the boards harder than the Bearcats, and the Shockers came up with one more steal.

In Cincinnati basketball’s final game of the week, the team had another shooting slump falling to Temple 75-71. The Bearcats did a lot of good things to keep this game close. Cincinnati moved the ball well, took care of the ball, and forced Temple to turnovers. The downfall for the Bearcats came by putting the Owls on the free-throw line 34 times, Temple converted more 3-pointers on fewer attempts, and Temple fought harder on the boards.

ECU Pirates (2-8)

ECU basketball split the week against the Florida teams, winning one game and losing one game. The Pirates grabbed a 65-57 win over USF and then a tough 69-66 loss to UCF.

ECU was the aggressor on a very efficient shooting day in the USF game. The Pirates shot 45.5% from the field, 31.3% from 3-point range, and 83.3% from the free-throw line. The Pirates did outrebound the Bulls thanks to the defensive rebounding efforts. ECU basketball did not help themselves in a lot of ways. The Pirates turned the ball over 17 times while stealing the ball less. USF outrebounded ECU on the offensive boards and did not move the ball as well as the Bulls.

The Pirates fell short against the Knights. UCF shot the ball slightly better, ECU basketball matched UCF on the boards, and both teams took care of the ball. ECU fouled more and came up with more steals, but it was too much to overcome even doing these things. UCF got to the free-throw line, made four more 3-pointers than ECU, and had better ball movement than the Pirates.

Houston Cougars (11-2)

After dropping a couple of challenging games last week against SMU and Memphis, Houston basketball bounced back against UCF and Wichita State. The Cougars won 70-52 over the Knights and a double-overtime victory 76-74 with under five minutes.

Houston basketball found its rhythm and did many things well against UCF. The Cougars shot the ball well, with the excellent defensive effort, excellent ball movement, and solid timing. While the Cougars won the battle of the boards, UCF grabbed more offensive rebounds. Both teams had the same steals and turnovers, but the better free-throw shooting helped boost Houston over UCF. The Cougars continue to be aggressive on defense and patient on offense.

Houston Cougars had a solid victory in a game in Wichita that took 50 minutes to win. Houston made two more 3-pointers than the Shockers, grabbed 16 offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities, and 11 steals. The Cougars moved the ball well and took care of the ball. The Shockers took advantage of Houston’s aggressive defense and found the free-throw line for 26 attempts, sinking 23 of them. These opportunities kept the game close, and the Shockers were down Morris Udeze while Houston played overtime without Taze Moore. Houston Cougars continue to have some of the best games of the year.

Memphis Tigers (9-5)

Memphis basketball has been rolling, but it fell short in a game that the team wanted to win. The Tigers split the week with a win over Cincinnati 81-74 and then lost 73-57 to second in the conference SMU.

Memphis basketball dominated Cincinnati with good shot selection, ball movement, and length. Memphis was efficient from 3-point range, and the Tigers went 7-of-17 and 31-of-58 from the field. The Tigers blocked five shots, grabbed eight steals, and limited their turnovers. Memphis put the Bearcats on the free-throw line too much and had too many defensive breakdowns that allowed Cincinnati to grab offensive rebounds.

The Tigers had a solid performance against SMU, but the Mustangs were too offensively. Memphis basketball created opportunities but did not convert enough of the opportunities. The Tigers again had defensive breakdowns that allowed SMU second-chance opportunities. Memphis moved the ball well but also turned the ball over too much and put SMU on the free-throw line too many times. The Tigers could come up with more steals, couldn’t convert on the free-throw line, and even had one more block than the Mustangs.

SMU Mustangs (10-3)

SMU basketball split the week with a surprising loss and a solid win. SMU lost to Temple on the road 64-57 and grabbed a home win 73-57 over Memphis.

The Mustangs did well offensively against Temple on a very efficient day. SMU basketball shot the ball better and moved the ball better than Temple. The Mustangs got in trouble by turning the ball over too much, giving the Owls second-chance opportunities on offensive rebounds, and then fouling the Owls. Temple was able to get to the free-throw line for 24 attempts.

SMU basketball defended its home court yet again against Memphis in an offensive barrage. SMU had solid ball movement, limited its fouls, and created second-chance shots for the team by crashing the offensive boards and playing aggressive defense. The Mustangs looks like it should have lost on paper in every column against Memphis, but the team’s offensive ability was enough to lift SMU to a win.

Temple Owls (8-5)

This week, Temple basketball came up with two massive wins against the top of conference teams in SMU and Cincinnati. Temple own at home against SMU 64-57 and on the road 75-71 against Cincinnati.

The Owls came up big against SMU with its aggressive style of play. Temple stayed competitive, shooting well against the Mustangs. This win for the Owls came from offensive rebounds, forcing turnovers, and taking care of the ball. The fact that Temple only turned the ball over five times. The aggressive play the Owls brought to the table put the team on the free-throw line and solidified this win for Temple. The biggest issue for the Owls was just a lack of ball movement. The players seemed to play a lot of iso and took more shots.

In a complete reversal, Temple basketball’s offense came in clutch as the team went 22-of-52 from the field, 9-of-19 from 3-point range, and 22-of-34 from the free-throw line. Besides that, Temple won the rebounding battle and somehow had more blocks than the Bearcats. The Owls had a lot of issues turning the ball over significantly more than Cincinnati and did not move the ball well. This week, Temple being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line lifted them over these top teams.

Tulane Green Wave (9-5)

This week, Tulane basketball won its lone game, taking down USF 76-57.

The Green Wave had great ball movement for open shots and took care of the basketball. Tulane also had itself an offensive day, making 52.7% of its shots, 39.1% from 3-point range, and an impressive 100% from the free-throw line. Beyond that, the Green Wave caused15 turnovers, with eight coming off steals. Tulane did not have an offensive rebound in this game, which is troubling. The Green Wave got beat in rebounding, and it was a glaring issue. This week, Tulane should be working on rebounding if it wants to remain competitive in the AAC.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-10)

Tulsa basketball took a road trip and split the week. Tulsa lost at UCF 76-67 and then grabbed a win at USF 65-57.

Tulsa continues not to complete a game. The Golden Hurricane lost in every category, but its most significant win was in the aggressive style of play as the team got to the free-throw line for 21 attempts and knocked down 17 of them. Tulsa basketball had a fine offensive day, but not as good as UCF. The Golden Hurricane were outrebounded, turned the ball over more, and struggled to move the ball.

Tulsa basketball had better offensive days shooting and moved the ball well. The Golden Hurricane continued an aggressive style of play that got them to the free-throw line for 17 attempts. Tulsa basketball made it difficult for USF as it took more shots even to get close to matching Tulsa. The biggest weakness of the Golden Hurricane in this game was its rebounding. USF also forced Tulsa to turn the ball 19 times, which kept this game close.

UCF Knights (8-7)

UCF basketball protected its home court in two games and fell in its lone road game this week. The Knights won 76-67 over Tulsa, Houston 70-52, and 69-66 over ECU.

Starting its week with a win, UCF had good ball movement, knocked down open shots, crashed the boards, and forced Tulsa to turn the ball over. The Knights had a near-perfect game on the stat sheet. This game was kept close by the fouls in the act of shooting and some ball-handling mistakes.

UCF had too many struggles to battle with the dominant Houston Cougars in its trip to Houston. The Knights had a noble shot, grabbing offensive rebounds, creating second-chance opportunities, and taking advantage of Houston’s aggressive defense style to get to the free-throw line. Unfortunately, UCF could not win as the team couldn’t convert its open looks and free throws. The Knights did improve in taking care of the ball, but it wasn’t enough.

UCF basketball continued its solid offense and ability to take care of the ball against the Pirates. The Knights could get to the free-throw line more and moved the ball well. UCF converted its free throws for a nice win. The surprise came from the Pirates as they matched UCF on the boards.

USF Bulls (2-12)

USF basketball remained consistent this week, losing all three of its games and only having the ability to score 57 points. The Bulls fell 76-57 to Tulane, 65-57 against ECU, and 65-57 against Tulsa.

In a game where the Bulls struggled, USF was surprised by preventing Tulane grab a single offensive rebound and winning the battle of the boards. Unfortunately, the Bulls struggle to score, move the ball, or add any on-paper wins. It looks like USF will need to have a solid defensive outing, reliable ball movement, and play at a slow pace to grab a win.

USF basketball showed growth in its second game of the week. The Bulls again grabbed more offensive boards, had improved ball movement, and forced more turnovers of the Pirates. The downfall came as the Bulls fouled the Pirates in the act of shooting and put them on the free-throw line for 24 attempts.

The Bulls remained consistent, winning the offensive rebounds again against Tulsa. Unfortunately, USF basketball could not convert more of their opportunities. While Tulsa had an efficient shooting day, USF created turnovers and took the basketball. This was just not enough for the Bulls to come away with a win.

Wichita State Shockers (4-8)

Wichita State basketball played very well this week. The Shockers just could not come away with a win. Wichita State fell on the road against Cincinnati 85-76 and a double-overtime thriller against Houston 76-74.

The Shockers played very well against the Bearcats. Wichita State created second-chance opportunities grabbing more offensive rebounds, stealing the ball, and limiting its turnovers. The Shockers were even able to create opportunities by getting to the free-throw line. Wichita State had trouble converting from the floor or the free-throw line. The Shockers were unable to overcome the offensive efficiency of the Bearcats.

In one of the best games to be played in the AAC this year, this game rivaled only SMU’s matchup against Houston. The Shockers did so much right as the team fell in the closing seconds of the second overtime. Wichita State basketball beat Houston in total rebounds. Shockers struggle with ball movement but did a nice job as Houston forced turnovers by stealing the ball instead of ball handling by the Shockers. This is the team that so many had expected all year. While it may be too late, Wichita State’s fight was quite impressive.

American Athletic Conference Rankings

A couple of changes happened this week as one team is moving up while others falter.

  1. Houston Cougars
  2. SMU Mustangs
  3. Memphis Tigers
  4. Tulane Green Wave
  5. Temple Owls
  6. Cincinnati Bearcats
  7. UCF Knights
  8. Wichita State Shockers
  9. ECU Pirates
  10. USF Bulls
  11. Tulsa Golden Hurricane