Kendric Davis, SMU, AAC Tournament

The AAC Tournament Semifinals provided the championship we all wanted to see.

(1) Houston vs. (5) Tulane – Cougars claw down rebounds in a victory

Looking at a stat sheet, these two teams were very well matched outside of the rebounding portion of the game and made the fact that Houston won 86-66 even more incredible.

With a surprising start to the game, a key player for Houston basketball, Fabian White, did not play most of the game, only logging a little over two minutes. He seemed to be dealing with a lower back injury that flared up. This allowed an opening for Tulane to push on the Cougars. Coach Kelvin Sampson’s club continued its next-man-up mentality as J’Wan Roberts and Reggie Chaney stepped up for the program. Putting in crucial minutes, Roberts helped the Cougars in a big way.

The Green Wave put up quite the fight offensively, but Houston’s pure domination on defense was too much to handle. Tulane shot 46% from the field and 30% from the 3-point range. The Green Wave even had 21 free-throw opportunities but only converted 14. The Cougars’ ability to create second-chance opportunities was massive in this game as it outscored Tulane 29-0 on second-chance points. Coach Sampson’s team continues to focus on dominating the boards, and the 17 offensive rebounds and 26 defensive rebounds showed a glaring difference in the game. In comparison, the Green Wave could only grab three offensive and 18 defensive boards.

Fabian White is a key contributor for this team, and with him potentially out, the winner of the Memphis-SMU game could have an advantage. Luckily, J’Wan Roberts showed he could substitute in a big way putting up a double-double off-the-bench with ten points and 13 rebounds.

(2) SMU vs. (3) Memphis – The Bruins’ big three

These two teams poked and prodded at each others’ weaknesses to create a very competitive semifinal matchup. The Tigers won 70-63 over SMU. The Mustangs went after Memphis’ aggressive play getting to the free-throw line. SMU went after the bigs of the Tigers’ fouling out DeAndre Williams with 10 minutes left in the game. The Mustangs also used the weakness of the guard play to cause turnovers. The refs allowed these two teams to battle that going in among the trees was something the Mustangs struggled with.

Memphis used its size and strength to beat up the Mustangs down low. The Tigers dominated the boards to create second-chance opportunities. The Tigers also took the approach of double-teaming the AAC player of the year, Kendric Davis. Memphis outrebounded SMU by over 20 rebounds and then was able to get to the free-throw line to close out the game. While neither team shot the ball well, Memphis came out on top with a higher efficiency shooting day. The Tigers were able to overcome their turnover and fouling issues to win.

The Houston Cougars will play the Memphis Tigers in the American Athletic Conference championship game at 2:15 p.m. CST.