Ron Hunter, Tulane Green Wave, AAC Basketball

The Nerd gives his AAC basketball power rankings for week 11 of the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Matchup of the week: Houston vs. Tulane

Sneaky good matchup of the week: Memphis vs. Cincinnati

All games listed are EST.

1) Houston Cougars

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 17-1 (5-0)

Last week: South Florida (W) 83-77

Next week: @ Tulane (Jan. 17 – 7 p.m.), Temple (Jan. 22 – 3 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: N/A

Houston had a fight on their hands against the Bulls. Both teams shot the ball well, but the Cougars crave second-chance opportunities. Houston created these with nine steals, forcing 18 turnovers and adding four blocks. The Cougars remained aggressive as they had 23 team fouls and put USF on the free-throw line for 27 opportunities. This game was without Jarace Walker due to a hamstring injury, but Marcus Sasser blew it up by going for 31 points, Jamal Shead added 20 points, and Tramon Mark added 13 points as the only player in double-digit scoring.

2) Tulane Green Wave

Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)

Record: 12-5 (5-1)

Last week: @ SMU (W) 97-88, UCF (W) 77-69

Next week: #1 Houston (Jan. 17 – 7 p.m.), @ Tulsa (Jan. 21 – 8 p.m.)

Best wins: Memphis, UCF, @ Temple

Worst losses: George Mason

I had Tulane vs. SMU as a sneaky good matchup showed up because the Mustangs continues to play well at home, and the ability of Tulane to score showed up. The Green Wave shot an incredible 56.5% from the field and 44.0% from 3-point range. Tulane had excellent ball movement while forcing 14 steals and 16 turnovers. These key factors came up huge as SMU outrebounded Tulane. SMU also had two more assists on the night. A solid game for the Green Wave as they continue to put in work in AAC basketball play.

Hunter was ready and battled against UCF for the win at home. The Green Wave shot the ball better and forced turnovers that created opportunities. Solid games from Jaylen Forbes and Jalen Cook lifted the Green Wave. Forbes put up 21 points, Cook had 27 points, and Kevin Cross added 16 points as the only players in double-digits. Tulane forced 15 steals and 18 turnovers for the Knights. The team also got to the free throw line for 27 attempts and made 24 of them. This team continues to find advantages and come out with big wins.

They have a challenging game against Houston that I am sure will be a must-watch.

3) UCF Knights

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-1)

Record: 13-5 (4-2)

Last week: Memphis (W) 107-104, @ Tulane (L) 69-77

Next week: @ South Florida (Jan. 21 – Noon.)

Best wins: Memphis, Oklahoma State, Santa Clara

Worst losses: UNC Asheville

It was a massive win for Coach Dawkins and UCF as the team hosted the Tigers in a big game. Both teams shot the ball well, but UCF’s 3-point attempts and 3-point shooting were a big boost. The Knights also took advantage of Memphis’s aggressive play and made it to the free-throw line for 37 attempts. UCF had excellent ball movement with 19 assists on 29 made baskets. The Knights were also able to come up with more rebounds that created second-chance opportunities on the offensive end. Ithiel Horton had a huge game to help boost UCF with 30 points, and C.J. Kelly also helped by adding 21 points.

After a great game for Horton, he struggled against Tulane as the team seemingly stopped him. The Knights fell to Tulane as Tyem Freeman led the team in scoring, putting up 22 points, got help from Kelly, who added 17 points, and the last contributor was probably one of the more consistent players in Taylor Hendricks, who added 15 points. The team struggled to shoot the ball and foul. However, the Knights’ ball movement was incredible as the team put up 18 assists on 25 shots. On the same note, Tulane came up with big steals and forced 18 turnovers. The good news for the Knights is a great matchup and the fact that the team still won on the boards, coming up with 42 rebounds.

4) Cincinnati Bearcats

Last week’s ranking: 6 (+2)

Record: 13-6 (4-2)

Last week: East Carolina (W) 83-55, @ SMU (W) 54-52

Next week: @ South Florida (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), Memphis (Jan. 22 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Bryant, La Salle, Tulane

Worst losses: Northern Kentucky

The Bearcats controlled the game against the Pirates. It was an incredible 3-point shooting day, where 53.6% of your 3-pointers are going in, it would be difficult to lose. The team moved the ball well, with 20 assists on 31 buckets. The Bearcats were also able to swipe away the ball five times and forced ten turnovers for the Pirates. Cincinnati and Coach Miller cruised past ECU, with the only weakness showing up as the team put the Pirates on the line for 15 shots. Coach Miller and the Bearcats showed no mercy in the game and looked solid in every aspect.

The Bearcats clawed their way through a challenging game at SMU to come out with the win. Both teams shot under 35% from the field and under 30% from 3-point range. For Cincinnati, the team was able to crash the boards to come up with crucial second-chance opportunities. The Bearcats grabbed 19 offensive and 33 defensive rebounds to outrebound the Mustangs by 11. The other positive stat for Cincinnati was the team’s ability to alter shots, as the team had 12 blocks. Miller will need to recalibrate this week as the teams’ 17 turnovers were almost its undoing. Good news for the Bearcats, it has another potential for a good win on the road against USF this week. The team was lifted to the win by Adams-Woods’ 16 points and Landers Nolley’s 16 points to lift the team to a win.

5) Temple Owls

Last week’s ranking: 4 (+1)

Record: 10-9 (4-2)

Last week: @ Tulsa (W) 76-72, Memphis (L) 59-61

Next week: East Carolina (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), @ #1 Houston (Jan. 22 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Villanova, Rutgers, Cincinnati

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

Temple controlled the game on the road against Tulsa. While Tulsa battled back twice to make the game close, the Owls shot the ball well and won the battle of the boards. Temple did so many things right with solid ball movement. The Owls did turn the ball over more and could have shot the ball a little better from the free-throw line, as the team only shot 73.7%.

The Owls kept the game close against Memphis but fell just short. Temple did a great job of collecting rebounds and getting second-chance opportunities. Of the 59 points, 19 points came off of offensive rebounds. Temple struggled with ball movement or forcing turnovers. The turnovers were actually the downfall for Temple, as the team had 17 turnovers, with eight coming from steals. While both teams struggled shooting the ball, an impressive feat was the Owls’ making their free throws as they got to the charity stripe for 23 opportunities and making 21 of themβ€”Temple’s poor shooting only 29.3% from the field and 13.8% from 3-point range.

6) Memphis Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 5 (-1)

Record: 13-5 (3-2)

Last week: @ UCF (L) 104-107, @ Temple (W) 61-59

Next week: Wichita State (Jan. 19 – 7 p.m.), @ Cincinnati (Jan. 22 – 1 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: @ Tulane

It was difficult overtime loss for Memphis as they came up just short against UCF. The Tigers did many things well, from shooting 50.7% from the field, coming up with seven steals and 18 turnovers, to even shooting 90.3% from the charity stripe. It was just not enough as Kendric Davis put on a show with 42 points, Elijah McCadden followed with 18 points, and Keonte Kennedy added 14 points. It was not enough, as UCF shot the ball so well from 3-point range and could get to the free-throw line for additional opportunities. The dead-clock shots and second-chance baskets awarded were too difficult for the Tigers to overcome.

After falling short and shooting the ball well, the Tigers regressed against the Owls and struggled offensively. The positive is the excellent ball movement, as the team had ten assists on 22 made shots. However, the team struggled to shoot 37.9% from the field and only 17.4% from 3-point range. Memphis forced turnovers, with eight of them coming from steals. The Tigers only got turned over nine times. A nice boost, but the fouls and second-chance opportunities left the door open for the Owls. Coach Hardaway drew up a last-second play for the win and put the ball in Kendric Davis’ hands to pull off the win.

7) Wichita State Shockers

Last week’s ranking: 8 (+1)

Record: 9-8 (2-3)

Last week: Tulsa (W) 73-69

Next week: @ Memphis (Jan. 19 – 7 p.m.), @ SMU (Jan. 22 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Richmond, Grand Canyon, @ USF

Worst losses: Alcorn State, East Carolina

After what looked like another loss, the Shockers pulled together to rally back for a win over Tulsa. Being down 41-27 at the half, Wichita State took 17 minutes to get within striking distance of the Golden Hurricane. A Craig Porter block turned into a fast break with an assist from James Rojas to Jaron Pierre Jr. to take the lead with a little over a minute left to play. The late-game turnovers gave the Shockers a win as they forced Tulsa to foul, and the Shockers made their free throws. A significant boost came from Jaykwon Walton, who had been out due to injury, came back to score 19 points. Rojas and Kenny Pohto came up big, collecting 17 of the 30 rebounds and adding 11 points a piece.

On top of that, these two players handed out eight of the 14 assists. As the team struggled to make 3-pointers, again, the only 3-pointers coming off the bench from Xavier Bell and Isaac Abidde as the team went 2-for-17. The good news is that Wichita State was able to get to the free-throw line and make 23-of-26. They needed them all to pull off this win. The Shockers go on an arduous road trip this week but could make some big moves with a win against either of their opponents.

8) East Carolina Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-1)

Record: 10-9 (1-5)

Last week: @ Cincinnati (L) 55-83, USF (L) 70-81

Next week: @ Temple (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Toledo, South Carolina, Mercer

Worst losses: Old Dominion, South Carolina State, South Florida

The Pirates did not have the firepower against a strong Cincinnati team. The team struggled offensively, going 34.5% from the floor and 21.1% from 3-point range. ECU struggled to grab rebounds as the Bearcats did not seem to miss much and ended up with 17 more rebounds than the Pirates. While the team moved the ball well, not making shots hurt this number. East Carolina had nine assists on 20 made shots. A positive for ECU was the lack of turnovers and limited fouls. There are a few times in the AAC that have similar builds and similar issues.

ECU did not have a chance against USF. The well-rounded game that the Bulls came in with made it difficult for ECU even to keep it close. The Pirates shot the bell well from 3-point range, shooting 33.3% but only 37.9% from the field. The second chance opportunities gave ECU 11 points. The Pirates moved the ball well, coming up with 15 assists on 22 made shots. The Pirates also caused six steals and forced 13 turnovers. Unfortunately, ECU turned the ball over 15 times.

9) South Florida Bulls

Last week’s ranking: 10 (+1)

Record: 8-10 (1-4)

Last week: @ #1 Houston (L) 77-83, @ ECU (W) 81-70

Next week: Cincinnati (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), UCF (Jan. 21 – Noon)

Best wins: Saint Joseph’s, Hofstra, @ ECU

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

USF came in fighting against the best team in the nation and AAC basketball in Houston. Shooting the ball exceptionally well, the Bulls shot 48.9% from the field and 47.6% from 3-point and went 21-of-28 from the charity stripe for 77.8%. On top of that, the Bulls crashed the boards, grabbing nine more defensive rebounds for a plus six rebounds over the Cougars. The Bulls moved the ball well, coming up with 12 assists on 23 made shots. USF struggled with turnovers and put Houston on the free-throw line for 32 opportunities. Tyler Harris showed up significantly for USF as he matched Marcus Sasser’s 31 points. He got help from Jamir Chaplin’s 14 points and Russel Tchewa’s 14-point outing.

Against East Carolina, the team shot 50% from the floor and 47.8% from 3-point range. The team had smooth ball movement coming up with 17 assists on 28 made shots. More importantly, USF forced turnovers and still matched ECU on the boards. Harris put up 24 points and got help from Selton Miguel, who put up 11. The other significant offensive contributor was Tchewa, who scored 20 points. Sam Hines Jr. and Keyshawn Bryant were massive for the team, grabbing 11 and 10 rebounds to limit ECU’s scoring chances. The Bulls put ECU on the free throw line a few too many times (24) but were also aggressive and got to the line for 21 opportunities.

10) SMU Mustangs

Last week’s ranking: 9 (-1)

Record: 6-12 (1-4)

Last week: Tulane (L) 88-97, Cincinnati (L) 52-54

Next week: @ Tulsa (Jan. 18 – 8 p.m.), Wichita State (Jan. 22 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Iona, Utah State, Lamar

Worst losses: Louisville, Louisiana, Jackson State

SMU made it a game at home against Tulane. The team shot and moved the ball well, coming up with 23 assists on 32 baskets. The Mustangs owned the boards, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds to Tulane’s three and 27 defensive rebounds to Tulane’s 24. Unfortunately, the turnovers and struggles at the charity stripe were critical factors in the loss. Tulane’s scoring ability and offensive efficiency in this game were just too much for SMU to overcome.

SMU did a solid job down the stretch, as Cincinnati did not score in the last three minutes of the game. The Mustangs also could not score, only making one 3-pointer. The Mustangs looked like they had a shot when Victor Lahkin missed his free throw, but a last-chance 3-pointer did not fall for Zhuric Phelps. SMU struggled offensively at home, which is a surprise as it is usually where the team plays so well. Shooting only 31.9% from the field and only making 26.7% of 3-pointers was an issue. Even with decent ball movement, SMU had 15 assists on 22 made baskets. The Mustangs did turn over the Bearcats 17 times, with 12 coming from steals, while only having nine turnovers from six steals. SMU will hopefully find its offense as it has a couple of games where it could come up with big wins against Tulsa and Wichita State this week.

11) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-1)

Record: 4-12 (0-5)

Last week: Temple (L) 72-76, @ Wichita State (L) 69-73

Next week: SMU (Jan. 18 – 8 p.m.), Tulane (Jan. 21 – 8 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: Charlotte, Murray State, @ Wichita State

Tulsa showed a lot of fight at home against Temple. Falling short, the Golden Hurricane shot the ball well from the field but struggled from 3-point range. Battling back twice to make the game close, Tulsa did not move the ball well, and the offense seemed to stagnate. Sam Griffin and Bryant Selebangue have been showing up for this team, especially since the start of AAC play.

The rough week continued for the Golden Hurricane as the team led most of the game against the Shockers before falling short. Another big game for Griffin, but Selebangue went missing. Brandon Betson was the only player to break double-digits, barely going for ten points off the bench. Tulsa shot the ball well, 46.6% from the field and 45.5% from 3-point range. The Golden Hurricane again turned the ball over too much 16 times, with 11 of them coming off of steals. This team matched the Shockers in rebounds, with the differences coming in the number of trips to the charity stripe and a couple of big blocked shots by the Shockers. Tulsa has a couple of tough matchups this week but should have a shot against SMU as this team hosts them.

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