Johnny Dawkins, UCF Knights, AAC basketball

The Nerd gives his AAC basketball power rankings for week 10 of the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Matchup of the week: Memphis vs. UCF

Sneaky good matchup of the week: Tulane vs. SMU

All games listed are EST.

1) Houston Cougars

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 16-1 (4-0)

Last week: SMU (W) 87-53, @ Cincinnati (W) 72-59

Next week: South Florida (Jan. 11 – 8 p.m.), @ Tulane (Jan. 17 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Virginia, Saint Mary’s, UCF, Oregon, @ Cincinnati

Worst losses: N/A

The Cougars were dominant with their play as freshman phenom Jerace Walker has put his stamp on the American Athletic Conference, growing into the player many expected him to be. He put up 23 points, ten rebounds, and three assists. Coach Sampson was ready against SMU, but the team fell behind 2-0; that was the last time SMU led in the game. Houston owned the boards on both ends, moved the ball, and created transition baskets off blocks, forcing turnovers and rebounding. One of the complete games put together by the Cougars.

The Cougars then traveled to Cincinnati and battled for the first 13 minutes, but Houston separated and could not be caught. They shot the ball well, forced 17 turnovers, and scored transition points off of 13 steals. Cincinnati had more rebounds but could not battle against the top AAC team.

2) UCF Knights

Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)

Record: 10-4 (3-1)

Last week: @ East Carolina (W) 64-61, SMU (W) 85-53

Next week: Memphis (Jan. 11 – 7 p.m.), @ Tulane (Jan. 14 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Oklahoma State, Santa Clara, Ole Miss

Worst losses: UNC Asheville

UCF had a solid back-and-forth with East Carolina. The game remained close, with ECU’s last lead coming at 14: 31 left in the game. The Knights took control and had a couple of close calls as the Pirates made some strong pushes. However, C.J. Kelly willed this team to victory with a 30-point game. He got some help from the impressive freshman Taylor Hendricks, who has struggled in conference play. The Knights shot the ball well and limited opportunities to rebounding the Pirates. Fouling and turnovers were almost the downfalls of the Knights, but they pulled off the road victory.

SMU scored the first points and took its only lead at 2-0 against the Knights. At that point, UCF tamed the Mustangs. Creating an absolute separation just before the half, going up by nine points, UCF made some great plays and took intelligent shots. The Knights shot 52.6% from the floor, 40% from 3-point, and 75% from the charity stripe. UCF crashed boards for 19 more rebounds than SMU. The Knight’s ball movement was impressive, coming up with 16 assists on 30 made shots. An excellent showing by Ithiel Horton for 21 points, and Hendricks again had a double-digit game with 13 points.

3) Tulane Green Wave

Last week’s ranking: 6 (+3)

Record: 10-5 (3-1)

Last week: Tulsa (W) 93-77, @ Temple (W) 87-76

Next week: @ SMU (Jan. 11 – 8 p.m.), UCF (Jan. 14 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Memphis, Rhode Island, @ Temple

Worst losses: George Mason

Talk about a fun game to watch if you enjoy offense. Tulane took down Tulsa, with both teams shooting over 50% from the field and 23 assists for both teams. The Green Wave forced turnovers coming up with ten steals and forced 17 turnovers for Tulsa. Tulane was aggressive and got to the line for 20 attempts and knocked down 17 of them. The only issue for Tulane in this game was getting outrebounded by Tulsa on both ends of the floor. Jalen Cook and Jaylen Forbes scored 24 and 20 points respectively.

Coach Hunter and Tulane tied up the game with 9:34 left, took the lead, and rolled with it. Tulane shot the ball well, but its ability to get to the free throw line and make shots were massive. They got to the charity stripe 26 times and made 22 for 84.6%. Tulane also continued to move the ball and shoot it well. The remarkable feat was only turning the ball over six times while stealing the ball six times from Temple. Temple ended up with eight turnovers. Both teams played well.

4) Temple Owls

Last week’s ranking: 9 (+5)

Record: 9-8 (3-1)

Last week: @ South Florida (W) 68-64, Tulane (L) 76-87

Next week: @ Tulsa (Jan. 10 – 8 p.m.), Memphis (Jan. 15 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Villanova, Rutgers, Cincinnati

Worst losses: Wagner, Vanderbilt, Penn, Maryland Eastern Shore

The Owls could not shake the Bulls all game. A game that came down to making free throws. Temple made 23-of-26, while USF went 11 of 19. Both teams struggled with the deep ball but had decent days from the field, shooting over 40%. However, Temple struggled in this game and got lucky with the win. Temple had limited opportunities but also brought in defensive rebounds. USF grabbed more offensive boards, moved the ball better, and both teams struggled with turnovers.

Coach McKie saw the poor ball movement and made the change. The Owls moved the ball much better, which led to better shots. Temple did all it could except get to the free-throw line and make those shots. Temple limited its turnovers and battled on the boards but came up short against the Green Wave. Zach Hicks, Damian Dunn, and Khalif Battle put up quite a fight. McKie will need to continue to work with the Owls as the team should cruise past Tulsa ahead of its battle with Memphis this week.

5) Memphis Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-3)

Record: 12-4 (2-1)

Last week: East Carolina (W) 69-59

Next week: @ UCF (Jan. 11 – 7 p.m.), @ Temple (Jan. 15 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

Worst losses: N/A

Memphis had a bout against the Pirates, who hung in the fight until 16 minutes left in the game. Memphis took and maintained control. Even with the Tigers struggling with the deep ball and making free throws, Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams led the way. The Tigers came up with 15 steals and forced the Pirates into 22 turnovers. Memphis also put up five blocks. Most Memphis turnovers came from steals, which is a positive as it was not due to miscommunication or messy play.

6) Cincinnati Bearcats

Last week’s ranking: 5 (-1)

Record: 11-6 (2-2)

Last week: @ Wichita State (W) 70-61, #2 Houston (L) 59-72

Next week: ECU (Jan. 11 – 9 p.m.), @ SMU (Jan. 14 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Bryant, La Salle, Tulane

Worst losses: Northern Kentucky, @ Temple

Going on the road, Cincinnati was able to handle the Shockers. The Bearcats took the lead with 13:06 left in the first half and never looked back. The Bearcats shot the deep ball very well, scoring 44.8% from deep and 40.9% from the floor. Cincinnati dominated the boards and moved the ball very well, with 18 assists on 27 made shots. The Bearcats’ weakness in this game was a lack of free throw opportunities and turning the ball over too much. Jeremiah Davenport, Viktor Lahkin, Mika Adams-Woods, and Landers Nolley all played well offensively. Davenport lit up the scoreboard putting up 22 points.

Unfortunately for Cincinnati, Davenport could not make his shots against Houston. They were going 0-for-7 from the 3-point range and only 1-of-9 from the field. The turnovers remained an issue for the Bearcats as the Cougars came up with 13 steals and forced 17 turnovers. These transition buckets or extra opportunities were a boost for Houston. The Bearcats were a little more aggressive and got to the free throw line for 14 shots and knocked down ten of them. Another impressive stat was that the Bearcats rebounded the Cougars and continued to move the ball well. Coach Miller has some things to work on ahead of the East Carolina game.

7) East Carolina Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-3)

Record: 10-7 (1-3)

Last week: UCF (L) 61-64, @ Memphis (L) 59-69

Next week: @ Cincinnati (Jan. 11 – 9 p.m.), South Florida (Jan. 15 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Toledo, South Carolina, Mercer

Worst losses: Old Dominion, South Carolina State

ECU struggled to shoot the ball against UCF. The Pirates had 12 offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities but could not convert enough. East Carolina also made it to the line 22 times but only made 13 for a rough 59.1%. The Pirates did have solid ball movement with 13 assists on 20 made shots, and forcing turnovers, coming up with six steals. ECU had a balanced scoring attack with three players in double digits. The Pirates came up just short against UCF with the inability to make shots.

East Carolina’s shooting woes followed them on the road against Memphis. The team again shared the ball well but only made 22 shots with 13 assists. The Pirates came up with 11 steals, but the Tigers’ claws took the ball 15 times. ECU struggled and had some unforced errors, with 22 total turnovers. On top of that, the Pirates put Memphis on the free-throw line for 17 opportunities. Coach Schwartz has more things to build on as the Pirates continue its road trip to include Cincinnati this week.

8) Wichita State Shockers

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-1)

Record: 8-8 (1-3)

Last week: Cincinnati (L) 61-70, @ South Florida (W) 70-66

Next week: Tulsa (Jan. 14 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Richmond, Grand Canyon, @ South Florida

Worst losses: Alcorn State, East Carolina

Wichita State struggled with the Bearcats. The Shockers got dominated on the boards and played selfish basketball (four assists). Wichita State struggled shooting, with 32.8% from the field and 27.3% from 3-point range. However, the Shockers had some nice notes, only turning the ball over twice. This team also came up with nine steals and only put the Bearcats on the free-throw line three times. Coach Brown could use this as a teaching moment with the game’s positives and go on the road. Melvion Flanagan and Craig Porter Jr. both put up double-digits.

The Shockers went to USF and fell behind early. South Florida led most of the game, but Wichita State started pressing and played stricter defense. Flanagan, Kenny Pohto, and James Rojas were significant contributors to the comeback. The Shockers again were dominated on the boards as USF grabbed 47 and Wichita State only had 37 rebounds. Coach Brown got the note across as the team had 16 assists on 26 made shots. The Bulls got turned over 13 times, with six coming off steals. Wichita State came out with a lucky win and hoped to tighten the game as Wichita State hosts Tulsa.

9) SMU Mustangs

Last week’s ranking: 11 (+2)

Record: 6-10 (1-2)

Last week: @ #2 Houston (L) 53-87, @ UCF (L) 53-85

Next week: Tulane (Jan. 11 – 8 p.m.), Cincinnati (Jan. 14 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Iona, Utah State, Lamar

Worst losses: Louisville, Louisiana, Jackson State

SMU had a road trip and had no hope against the Cougars. Houston dominated in every category. The Mustangs struggled with shooting the ball and moving the ball. SMU took advantage of the aggressive play style of the Cougars getting to the free throw line for 28 attempts and knocking down 20 of them. The Mustangs even limited its turnovers to only 11. Efe Odigie and Zach Nutall were the only SMU players to score in double-digits.

SMU shot the ball better but still struggled against the Knights. The Mustangs played selfishly, only having seven assists. Coach Lanier needs to get his guys to focus on rebounding. In all of these games, the Mustangs have struggled with grabbing rebounds. This team can hang with any offensively when shooting the ball well, but SMU needs to work on ball movement and create shots. Again, Odigie was one of the players to score double-digits. This time the other player to break ten was Ricardo Wright. A very talented team that continues to have its struggles has another tough week ahead.

10) South Florida Bulls

Last week’s ranking: 8 (-2)

Record: 7-9 (0-3)

Last week: Temple (L.) 64-68, Wichita State (L) 66-70

Next week: @ Houston (Jan. 11 – 8 p.m.), @ East Carolina (Jan. 15 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Saint Joseph’s, Hofstra, St. Francis-BK

Worst losses: Southeast Missouri State, Austin Peay, Stetson, Wichita State

The slide continued for the Bulls as coach Gregory fell short in both games last week. The downfall was putting the Owls on the free-throw line. The Bulls battled on the boards and had some solid second-chance opportunities. USF came up with seven steals and forced 18 turnovers, 13 offensive rebounds, and two blocks. The cold shooting left the team just short of the Owls.

Against the Shockers, USF took the lead with 2 minutes left in the first half and separated to a 34-28 lead. The Bulls continued to control the game until there was just 2:45 left when the Shockers tied it up. Falling just short, South Florida just struggled offensively toward the end. The Bulls shot 37.3% from the field and 17.4% from 3-point range. USF dominated the boards on both ends and had some big blocks. It was a great game from Russel Tchewa, who put up 19 points. Tyler Harris missed shots toward the end of the game may have cost the game. Harris struggled from a distance in this game, only going 2-for-10 from 3-point range. The Bulls will learn much this week as Gregory hopes to cause some issues for Houston.

11) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-1)

Record: 4-10 (0-3)

Last week: @ Tulane (L) 77-93

Next week: Temple (Jan. 10 – 8 p.m.), @ Wichita State (Jan. 14 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Loyola-Chicago, Central Michigan, Jackson State

Worst losses: Charlotte, Murray State

Coach Konkol and the Golden Hurricane had their struggles as the team had a loss on the road. The team played well but struggled with turnovers. Tulsa shot the ball well, moved the ball well, and outrebounded the Green Wave but fell short. The Golden Hurricane put the Green Wave on the free throw line for 20 opportunities. Tulsa was not very aggressive, only getting the charity stripe for seven shots and only making three. The ball movement and rebounding show that Coach Konkol is taking this team in the right direction.

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