Viktor Lakhin, Cincinnati Bearcats, Big 12 basketball

The Nerd gives his AAC basketball power rankings for week 13 of the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Matchup of the week: Tulane vs. Memphis

Sneaky good matchup of the week: UCF vs. Cincinnati

All games listed are EST.

1) Houston Cougars

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 20-2 (8-1)

Last week: @ UCF (W) 82-71, Cincinnati (W) 75-69

Next week: @ Wichita State (Feb. 2 – 9 p.m.), @ Temple (Feb. 5 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Virginia, Saint Mary’s, Oregon, UCF (x2)

Worst losses: Temple

Facing off against UCF, Houston had control of the game since the 8:40 minute mark in the first half. The Cougars separated and maintained a lead. The ball movement and an impressive outing for Emanuel Sharp led the team in scoring with 18 points. A significant contributor as Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark struggled with fouls. Jarace Walker was a close second with 17 points. However, it was a master class in point guard play from Jamal Shead, who had 14 points and 10 assists. The ball movement and shot selection were top-tier. Houston continued a dominant effort on the boards but again struggled to shoot free throws. Coach Sampson knows this is an issue but cannot rectify it.

Houston came close to a loss to Cincinnati but pulled off the win. The Cougars made the free throws that mattered and took smart shots. Houston took the lead with 3:51 left in the game and kept it. Cincinnati tied it up at 69 with 1:19 left, and Shead made four of the last six Cougar points. Sasser had the other two points, and four of the points were from free throws. Walker led Houston with 25 points and 7 boards. J’Wan Robert added 14 points, 6 rebounds, and a block. Finally, Jamal Shead added 13 points,5 assists, and 2 rebounds. While the team struggled with 3-pointers, 29.4% in the game, the Cougars made up for it in shot selection, shooting 56.6% from the field. Houston only had eight turnovers which was a significant contributor to this win.

2) Temple Owls

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-)

Record: 14-9 (8-2)

Last week: South Florida (W) 79-76, @ UCF (W) 77-70

Next week: #3 Houston (Feb. 5 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Rutgers, Cincinnati, UCF

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

The Owls needed overtime to grab a win against USF. Temple outrebounded the Bulls and had some big blocks. The Owls made enough of their free throws to pull off a win. Temple was boosted by a big game from Khalif Battle with 25 points. Damien Dunn was a help as he added 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Battle created or made all the shots needed for the win in overtime.

After getting outrebounded by USF, the Owls grabbed more boards than UCF. Temple had a good offensive day and ball movement that led to good looks. The Owls shot 45.6% from the field and 34.8% from 3-point range. Temple handed out 19 assists but also had 17 turnovers, with 12 coming from steals. Battle had 26 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a pair of steals. He had help from Jamille Reynolds, who added 16 points. Hysier Miller was the only starter to put up double-digits with 13 points. It was an impressive win as UCF and Temple went back and forth in the second half. Another overtime game for Temple, who, again, came out on top.

3) Memphis Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 3 (-)

Record: 17-5 (7-2)

Last week: SMU (W) 99-84, @ Tulsa (W) 80-68

Next week: Tulane (Feb. 4 – 2 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: @ Tulane

Memphis had a great game against SMU and came away with the win. The Tigers shot 54% from the field, 39.1% from 3-point range, and 73.3% from the free throw line. The free throw percentage could have been a little better, but overall an excellent offensive game. Memphis was outrebounded on the offensive glass but matched SMU in total rebounds. The Tigers also turned the ball over a little too much with 13 in total. Memphis shared the ball having 25 assists on 34 made shots. Kendric Davis had a day putting up 25 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, and 1 steal. Keonte Kennedy has become another offensive weapon, adding 16 points, DeAndre Williams had 13 points, and Jayden Hardaway is back as he added 12 points. Chandler Lawson almost had a double-double grabbing 9 rebounds.

Against Tulsa, Memphis was not ready in the first half, as the Golden Hurricane gave them all they could handle. Memphis only led by two going into the half. Tulsa last led with 13:41 left, and Penny Hardaway had enough. Davis and Williams put up 22 collective points in the last 13:41 of the game. Davis finished with 26 points, and Williams with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Kennedy, again, had double-digits with 12 points, and Elijah McCadden had 11 points. The team was aggressive on both ends of the floor, shooting 49.2% from the field, 31.6% from 3-point range, and 80% from the free-throw line. The Tigers owned the boards on both ends and handed out nearly 20 assists. Memphis could have a fun game as it faces Tulane this week.

4) Tulane Green Wave

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-)

Record: 13-7 (6-3)

Last week: @ Wichita State (W) 95-90

Next week: SMU (Feb. 1 – 9 p.m.), @ Memphis (Feb. 4 – 2 p.m.), Cincinnati (Feb. 7 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Memphis, @ Temple, UCF

Worst losses: George Mason, @ Tulsa

Tulane forced overtime and grabbed the win against Wichita State. The Green Wave had a better shot selection and got to the free-throw line for more opportunities. The most critical part was Tulane’s ability to force turnovers and put on pressure in the second half and overtime for the win. The usual cast led the way with Jaylen Forbes going off for 25 points. Jalen Cook had the most impressive state line with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Kevin Cross came in a close second with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.

5) Cincinnati Bearcats

Last week’s ranking: 5 (-)

Record: 14-8 (5-4)

Last week: @ #3 Houston (L) 69-75

Next week: Tulsa (Feb. 1 – 7 p.m.), UCF (Feb. 4 – Noon), @ Tulane (Feb. 7 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Bryant, La Salle, Tulane

Worst losses: Northern Kentucky

The Bearcats gave Houston all they could handle off a massive game from Landers Nolley II. Nolley had a fantastic game putting up 24 points, going 9-for-14 from the field and 6-for-10 from three. He also had 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Nolley had an injury scare, which is when the Cougars started clawing back. Cincinnati grabbed more offensive rebounds and handed out more assists, but it wasn’t enough. The Bearcats shot the ball well but only got to the free-throw line seven times and made four. Cincinnati played an excellent game, only turning the ball over 9 times. Coach Miller has the right pieces and still has some areas to work on.

6) UCF Knights

Last week’s ranking: 6 (-)

Record: 13-7 (4-4)

Last week: #3 Houston (L) 71-82, Temple (L) 70-77

Next week: @ Cincinnati (Feb. 4 – Noon)

Best wins: Memphis, Oklahoma State, Santa Clara

Worst losses: UNC Asheville

UCF fell to the best team in the AAC in Houston. The Knights had good ball movement and came up with some nice steals and big blocks. They took care of the ball and made free throws, but it was not enough. UCF shot 43.4% from the field, 39.1% from 3-point range, and 84.2% from the free throw line. They were led by Ithiel Horton, who had 18 points, 5 rebounds, and an assist. AAC Basketball Freshman of the Year contender Taylor Hendricks added 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and 4 blocks.

This game was followed up by a tough overtime loss to Temple. After being down 7 at the half, the Knights forced Temple into OT, but struggled offensively. UCF shot the ball well from 3-point range at 37.5%. Inside the paint was difficult, shooting only 39.7% from the field. The Knights got outrebounded but forced 12 steals and 17 turnovers. Lahat Thioune and Horton led the team to score 13 points a piece. Darius Johnson and Brandon Suggs also had 12 points a piece. The Knights only shot 33.3% in overtime and fouled Temple too much to come away with the win.

7) Wichita State Shockers

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-)

Record: 11-10 (4-5)

Last week: Tulane (L) 90-95, @ East Carolina (W) 85-72

Next week: Houston (Feb. 2 – 9 p.m.), @ Tulsa (Feb. 5 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Richmond, Grand Canyon, @ SMU

Worst losses: Alcorn State, East Carolina

Turnovers, fouls, and settling for 3-pointers led to the Shockers’ loss to Tulane at home. Wichita State played well and had a massive lead until the team went away from where it had success. The Shockers shot 44.4% from the field, 36.8% from 3-point range, and even 75% from the charity stripe. Wichita State dominated the boards on both ends of the floor and had good ball movement on the offensive end. During a stretch of eight minutes in the second half, the Shockers did not score from the field. With two minutes left, Wichita State led 71-63. The Shockers turned the ball over four times and fouled shooters four times. A big 3-pointer by Jaykwon Walton forced overtime, but the turnovers persisted, and the Shockers fell short to Tulane.

A win against ECU was one of the best games for Wichita State. Isaac Brown came in with a gameplan that created shots in the paint and solid looks. The Shockers also may have realized that they struggled from 3-point range and only took 14. Another big part of this game was transition buckets, where Wichita State capitalized. It was also a tremendous offensive day for the Shockers as the team shot 50.9% from the field, 35.7% from 3-point range and an impressive 81.5% from the line. Wichita State relaxed a little bit in the second half but controlled most of the game. Craig Porter led his team by putting up 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. James Rojas was close behind with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block. Rojas is becoming a difference maker for this team, going 11-of-14 from the line in the game. Walton and Kenny Pohto were the other players in double-digits with 13 and 10 points a piece.

There was some solid ball movement for the Shockers, and this group will need to show up against Houston on Thursday to have any hope.

8) SMU Mustangs

Last week’s ranking: 10 (+2)

Record: 8-14 (3-6)

Last week: @ Memphis (L) 84-99, South Florida (W) 82-80

Next week: @ Tulane (Feb. 1 – 9 p.m.), @ East Carolina (Feb. 4 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Utah State, Iona, South Florida

Worst losses: Louisville, Louisiana, Jackson State, Wichita State

SMU fell short against Memphis as the team could not get going offensively. The Mustangs shot 36.6% from the field, 26.5% from 3-point range, and 69.7% from the free throw line. SMU had the opportunity to shoot 11 more 3-pointers and eight more total shots from the field. The Mustangs even had three more free-throw opportunities. Unfortunately, SMU could not finish and struggled offensively. The Mustangs grabbed 16 offensively rebounds, came up with 8 steals, and forced 13 turnovers. Zhuric Phelps had a decent day, but it came from many shots. Phelps scored 20 points, and Efe Odigie put up 14 points and was efficient with his looks. Zach Nutall also struggled offensively, going 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point range for five points.

The Mustangs almost threw its next game away as the team allowed USF to come back from being down 19 points to win by two. SMU had an excellent offensive day at home, shooting 50.9% from the field and 43.5% from 3-point range. Phelps again led his team in scoring 17 points and 7 rebounds. Odigie and Samuell Williamson both showed up, adding 14 and 13 points respectively. Finally, Stefan Todorvoci and Keon Abrose-Hylton both put up 11 points off the bench. The ball movement for SMU was massive as the team made 29 shots, with 24 coming from assists. Coach Lanier needs a plan as his team is on the road this week, and he needs them firing on all cylinders, especially against Tulane.

9) South Florida Bulls

Last week’s ranking: 8 (-1)

Record: 9-13 (2-7)

Last week: @ Temple (L) 76-79, @ SMU (L) 80-82

Next week: East Carolina (Feb. 1 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Saint Joseph’s, Hofstra, @ East Carolina

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

It was a devastating loss for the Bulls as they took Temple to OT but couldn’t finish. Tyler Harris struggled offensively, but the Bulls did get a big game from Keyshawn Bryant, who put up 21 points, 6 rebounds, and an assist. Russel Tchewa added 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. Finally, it was a decent game from Selton Miguel, who added 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. The Bulls shot 45.5% from the field, 30.8% from 3-point range, and 38.1% from the free throw line where the team fell short. The Bulls barely got outrebounded but managed to move the ball well, come up with twelve steals and force 17 turnovers. USF could not convert on the free throws to pull off the win in a game where it had a show.

It was another tough loss against the SMU Mustangs. The team battled back from 12 down to lose by 2. The Bulls played well offensively and crashed the boards. USF created more second-chance opportunities grabbing 8 steals and 13 offensive boards. The Bulls shot 46.2% from the field, 33.3% from 3-point range, and 68.8% from the charity stripe. Harris came to play after a down game putting up 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Tchewa added another double-double to his resume putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds, with 2 assists and a steal. The ball movement for the Bulls did not create opportunities; when they did, they could not make the shots to put the game in their favor.

10) East Carolina Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 9 (-1)

Record: 11-11 (2-7)

Last week: Wichita State (L) 72-85

Next week: @ South Florida (Feb. 1 – 7 p.m.), SMU (Feb. 4 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Toledo, South Carolina, Mercer

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

The Pirates fell behind early and could not battle back against Wichita State. East Carolina got beat in transition and were too aggressive defensively and not aggressive enough offensively.

The free throw disparity was a significant difference. ECU couldn’t finish the easy buckets shooting 37.3% from the field and 31.4% from 3-point range. The Pirates made 11-of-35 3-pointers, while Wichita State only shot 14 3-pointers. ECU did grab some nice second-chance opportunities grabbing offensive rebounds and forcing eight steals and 12 turnovers.

It was an off day for the Pirate’s offense. Brandon Johnson went 1-for-7, Kalib LaCount went 3-for-8, and Quentin Diboundje went 3-for-11 from the field. Of these three players, only Diboundje made his 3-pointers. Even RJ Felton struggled to 22 points, going 8-for-19 and 2-for-11 from 3-point range. Benjamin Bayela was a huge help to this offense as he came off the bench and scored 18 points. He was, by far, the most efficient and a real standout in this game for the Pirates. Bayela went 6-for-9 from the field and 6-for-8 from the 3-point range.

11) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)

Record: 5-15 (1-8)

Last week: Memphis (L) 68-80

Next week: @ Cincinnati (Feb. 1 – 7 p.m.), Wichita State (Feb. 5 – 3 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: Charlotte, Murray State, @ Wichita State

The Golden Hurricane had a tough loss to Memphis. After fighting for a half, Tulsa needs to tweak the small things to stay competitive. Coach Konkol needs to get his guys to lock in on defense and fight hard for boards. In the AAC, these are a big part of the game, and getting those second chance opportunities can make a massive difference. T

he Golden Hurricane is a good offensive team but does not have a guy that can take over the game. This team has good pieces, but with Byrant Selebangue struggling, Tim Dalger put up 17 points and even struggled from 3-point range. Sam Griffin also worked from deep putting up 15 points, but these two players were the only double-digit scorers. Tulsa shot 43.3% from the field, 26.9% from 3-point range, and then left a lot of points at the free throw line shooting 56.3%. This team had a great first half but did not seem to have the fire to battle for 40 minutes.

Tulsa could pick up a nice win against Wichita State but will need to be firing on all cylinders.

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