The Nerd gives his AAC basketball power rankings for week 16 of the 2022-23 college basketball season.
Matchup of the week: Tulane vs. Houston
Sneaky good matchup of the week: SMU vs. USF
All games listed are EST.
1) Houston Cougars
Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)
Record: 25-2 (13-1)
Last week: @ SMU (W) 80-65, Memphis (W) 72-64
Next week: Tulane (Feb. 22 – 9 p.m.), @ East Carolina (Feb. 25 – 8 p.m.)
Best wins: Virginia, Saint Mary’s, Memphis, Oregon, @ Tulane
Worst losses: Temple
Houston had control with ten minutes left in the first half and never relinquished it against the Mustangs. There was no Moody Coliseum fear for the Cougars taking a 43-29 lead at the half. Kelvin Sampson had his team pumping on all cylinders, as almost all five starters had double-digit scoring nights. Marcus Sasser led the way with 20 points. The team shot the ball well but struggled at the free-throw line making 16-of-26 opportunities. This is one of the glaring weaknesses of the Cougars that could cause them to have an early exit from the NCAA Tournament.
Ja'Vier Francis. Buy stock now@theJayfrancis10 @JonRothstein #ForTheCity x #GoCoogs pic.twitter.com/hO1czMQ6L9
— Houston Men's Hoops 🏀 🐾 (@UHCougarMBK) February 19, 2023
The Cougars cruised to a win over a Kendric Davis-less Memphis Tigers team. Gaining a lead with 8:13 left in the first half, Houston never relinquished it. The Cougars did turn around their free throw struggles, hitting almost 90% from the line. Despite going less than 20% from deep, Houston still found a way to shoot over 45% from the field. Sasser and Tramon Mark were the only players to make 3-pointers in this matchup. They attacked the Tigers at their weakness by forcing turnovers and then being aggressive on offense. This team has a lot of firepower but has inconsistent offensive play. Considering their ability to score, it will be near impossible to beat Houston when they are hot.
2) Tulane Green Wave
Last week’s ranking: 2 (-)
Record: 17-7 (10-3)
Last week: @ South Florida (W) 84-66
Next week: @ #1 Houston (Feb. 22 – 9 p.m.), Wichita State (Feb. 26 – 3 p.m.)
Best wins: Memphis, @ Temple, Cincinnati
Worst losses: George Mason, @ Tulsa
RELEASE: Tulane-ECU Men’s Basketball Game Will Not be Played as Scheduled https://t.co/57YgKJ0jsf
— Tulane Men's Basketball (@GreenWaveMBB) February 11, 2023
Jalen Cook, Kevin Cross, and Jaylen Forbes take care of business as Tulane toppled South Florida in their only game over the past two weeks. Cook led the way with 30 points and it was another double-double for Cross, who finished with 19 points, 13 boards, and 6 assists. It was a solid offensive day as the team shot 36.4% from downtown and 49.3% from the field. The Green Wave also forced 16 turnovers, with 11 coming from steals. Tulane was unselfish in its play and only had four turnovers the entire night.
3) Memphis Tigers
Last week’s ranking: 3 (-)
Record: 20-7 (10-4)
Last week: Temple (W) 86-77, UCF (W) 64-63, @ #2 Houston (L) 64-72
Next week: @ Wichita State (Feb. 23 – 7 p.m.), Cincinnati (Feb. 26 – 2 p.m.)
Best wins: Auburn, Texas A&M, Temple (x2)
Worst losses: Tulane (x2)
The Tigers’ length and athleticism forced turnovers, leading to a win over Temple. Forcing turnovers was the difference in the game. DeAndre Williams may end up as player of the year in the American Athletic Conference as he added another double-double to his resume as he scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Kendric Davis again scored over 20 points as he scored 21 points and forced four steals. Memphis had a nice offensive day as the team went 56.7% from the field and 44.4% from 3-point range. Coach Hardaway was likely unhappy about the missed free throws but was pleased with the day’s outcome.
Dre now has another double-double!
26 pts // 10 rebs pic.twitter.com/X6gOZOt1NC
— Memphis Basketball (@Memphis_MBB) February 12, 2023
The Tigers pulled out a thrilling victory on a last-second score to beat UCF. A big win as the team lost an AAC player of the year candidate, Kendric Davis, with four minutes left in the first half. With a nine-point lead, 44-35, Memphis had a lot to fight for. UCF took the lead with 3:10 left in the game, and it was the last time the Knights would score. Memphis had not scored since the 5:47 mark until a Damaria Franklin steal led to a scoop and score for the win. The Tigers struggled from 3-point range but shot an incredible 54.5% from the field and 77.8% from the charity stripe. Memphis’ ten steals was also a big boost for the win. Elijah McCadden led the team in scoring with 16 points. Davis was on crutches the rest of the game, so this will be something to keep an eye on for Memphis.
Memphis has now played 2 halves without Kendric Davis: 41 points, 30 turnovers
— Jason Munz (@munzly) February 19, 2023
The Tigers played very well without Davis, but Houston did not put forth its best effort, knowing Davis to be out. Memphis shot the ball exceptionally well, shooting 44.2% from the floor and even being boosted by its 3-pointers as it hit 40%. Unfortunately, the aggressive defensive play and turnovers kept the Tigers caged. Williams fouling out, Franklin and Lomax adding four fouls a piece, allowed the Cougars to handle its win. Memphis outrebounded Houston by four, with three coming on the offensive end. With so much going right for Memphis, it would have been a fun game that could have been a loss for the Cougars with Davis. The poor shooting from 3-point range for Houston kept the Tigers in it, but the over-aggressive defense also put Houston on the line too much. Coach Hardaway continues to have aggressive and talented teams, but there are times when this team is just too undisciplined.
4) Temple Owls
Last week’s ranking: 4 (-)
Record: 15-13 (9-6)
Last week: @ Memphis (L) 77-86, Wichita State (L) 65-79, Tulsa (W) 76-53
Next week: @ Cincinnati (Feb. 22 – 7 p.m.)
Best wins: @ Houston, Rutgers, UCF
Worst losses: Wagner, Vanderbilt, Penn, Maryland Eastern Shore, @ SMU
Temple throws the game away against the Tigers. The team’s downfall was the Owls’ 16 turnovers, with seven coming from Memphis steals. Temple played very well offensively outside its ball handling as it shot 51.9% from the field, 50% from 3-point range, and 84.6% from the free throw line. Khalif Battle led his team again with 25 points, Hysier Miller had 15 points, Zach Hicks had 12 points, and Nick Jourdain scored 10 points. Temple had six fewer shots from the field and three fewer from the charity stripe.
The Owls’ played good basketball, but its usual boost from Battle was not there as the team fell short to Wichita State. Temple shot the ball well, 41.1% from the field and 41.7% from 3-point range. Hysier Miller led the Owls in scoring with 17. Temple could not find a rhythm and made too many little mistakes. The Owls took the lead with six minutes left before the Shockers went on a run, and Temple could not make a shot. The Owls’ had five scoreless minutes that led to the team’s loss.
Back-to-Back threes for Dame. Owls lead 61 – 48 at the media timeout.
𝗔𝗟𝗟 𝗜𝗡! #ForPhilly @Dam1anKD pic.twitter.com/oSX76DaKS4
— Temple Men's Basketball (@TUMBBHoops) February 19, 2023
With 10:20 left in the first half, the Owls flew away with the lead against Tulsa. Damien Dunn had an impressive game scoring 24 points. Hysier Miller fell short of a double-double, scoring 11 points but only handed out nine assists. Temple was pumping all cylinders as the team scored 56.6% from the field and 41.7% from 3-point range. On top of that, the team limited its fouls and shared the ball with ease. The fluidity of this game was impressive for the Owls. Temple won in every category, even, unfortunately, turnovers. The Owls scored consistently and never let up to stay in the top half of the American standings.
5) Cincinnati Bearcats
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-)
Record: 18-10 (9-6)
Last week: South Florida (W) 84-65, @ East Carolina (L) 71-75, @ UCF (W) 73-71
Next week: Temple (Feb. 22 – 7 p.m.), @ Memphis (Feb. 26 – 2 p.m.)
Best wins: Tulane, Bryant, UCF (x2)
Worst losses: Northern Kentucky, @ East Carolina
Falling behind in the first half, the Bearcats came out firing. Cincinnati played without Lahkin and Phinisee. Jeremiah Davenport and Oguama took back the lead scoring 16 points in the second half in the first nine minutes. After that, the hoop got bigger for the Bearcats. Cincinnati shot 47% from the field and 43.5% from 3-point range. Oguama was perfect from the floor, going 9-for-9 with 18 points. Jeremiah Davenport also had 18 points but used his 3-point shot to help boost his numbers. Landers Nolley also barely grabbed a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds. DeJulius also almost had a double-double but fell short with ten points and nine assists.
HE'S ON FIRE! 🔥@ESPNPlus | https://t.co/BLm7GlxnlJ pic.twitter.com/H2Gsg0g0jZ
— Cincinnati Men’s Hoops (@GoBearcatsMBB) February 12, 2023
Cincinnati’s hot and cold play allows a window for the Pirates to steal a win. The Bearcats led at the half 37-29, a boost coming from its incredible offensive numbers. Cincinnati went 5-for-9 from 3-point range (55.6%) and 10-for-23 from within the arch (43.5%) in the first half before shooting went downhill. The Bearcats went 2-for-12 from 3-point range (16.7%) and 12-for-26 within the arc (46.2%). Cincinnati was not aggressive enough on the boards and struggled to get to the free-throw lines. The Bearcats got destroyed on the offensive boards and only got to the free throw line 13 times to ECU’s 22 opportunities.
A buzz-beating win for the Bearcats as they escape UCF with a win. This was a scrap from the beginning for Cincinnati, as the team was still without Lahkin having some massive minutes from Oguama and Ezikpe. With all five starters scoring double-digits, it was a big boost for the Bearcats. David DeJulius came in clutch. After C.J. Kelly tied it up, he made a layup with less than a second left in regulation. Landers Nolley led the team scoring 18 points. Oguama and Ezikpe had 15 and 12 points as the replacement for Lahkin, who pulled in four and six rebounds. Cincinnati shot 54.7% from the field, with 16 points coming from turnovers. The Bearcats struggled from 3-point range but also outrebounded the Knights to pull off this win.
6) Wichita State Shockers
Last week’s ranking: 7 (+1)
Record: 14-12 (7-7)
Last week: SMU (W) 91-89, @ Temple (W) 79-65
Next week: Memphis (Feb. 23 – 7 p.m.), @ Tulane (Feb. 26 – 3 p.m.)
Best wins: Grand Canyon, @ Temple, Richmond
Worst losses: Alcorn State, East Carolina
A double-overtime win for the Shockers got all it could handle from SMU. Neither team could separate. Wichita State had a lead of seven, while the Mustang’s biggest lead was six points. The Shockers continued its turnover struggle, which kept SMU hanging around. One of the best offensive outings for Wichita State as the team shot 57.4% from the field and even 33.3% from 3-point range. The Shockers have gotten away from the 3-pointer, and it is showing dividends. Solid ball movements and another career day for Kenny Pohto scored 28 points and eight rebounds. Pohto will likely win the AAC’s most improved player of the year. Craig Porter continues to be the cog that turns the wheel. Porter scored 22 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal, and three blocks. This game was the first time in 35 years that the Shockers had three players finish with 20+ points.
Live on @ESPN | https://t.co/uCEwn02orV pic.twitter.com/nQNv1FB0mq
— Wichita State Men's Basketball (@GoShockersMBB) February 12, 2023
After an overtime battle against SMU, Wichita State hit the road and took down the Owls. The Shockers got a nice break as Khalif Battle had an off night and scored zero points. Wichita State could also knock down 3-pointers as it matched Temple’s made 3-pointers with ten. Another help for the team came from the bench, as the Shockers scored 22 points to Temple’s ten. Wichita State played unselfishly and took care of the ball with only 12 turnovers. The Shockers also made a good percentage of their free throws. Jaykwon Walton’s 21 points led the team. James Rojas, again, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The second-chance opportunities were massive as the Shockers won the battle of the boards and came up with eight steals. This was Wichita State’s first win in the Liacouras Center.
Shockers could pull off some big upsets and disturb the rankings with a win or two this week.
7) UCF Knights
Last week’s ranking: 6 (-1)
Record: 15-11 (6-8)
Last week: Tulsa (W) 96-52, @ Memphis (L) 63-64, Cincinnati (L) 71-73
Next week: Temple (Feb. 22 – 7 p.m.), @ Memphis (Feb. 26 – 2 p.m.)
Best wins: Memphis, Oklahoma State, Santa Clara
Worst losses: UNC Asheville
A likely finalist for AAC Freshman of the Year, Taylor Hendricks put in 18 points against Tulsa. His only misses came from three-point range. It was an excellent offensive outing for the Knights, shooting 55.2% from the field and 47.2% from deep range. Ithiel Horton led the team with 20 points, while Darius Johnson grabbed himself a double-double, scoring 13 points and dishing out 10 assists. The Bearcats outscored Tulsa by 20 points in the first half and 24 points in the second half.
With Kendric Davis out of the game in the second half for Memphis, the Knights battled back and held the lead until the closing seconds. UCF struggled shooting but had a significant boost from turnovers, as Memphis had 24 turnovers, and the Knights had 14 steals. The offensive struggles were too much as the team shot 32.3% from the field and 31% from 3-point range. Taylor Hendricks continues to be a dominant force for UCF as he led the team with 17 points, grabbed five rebounds, and had two blocks.
Clear for takeoff! 💥
CJK's second steal of the game turns into points at the other end 💪 pic.twitter.com/v61RWSpPGh
— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) February 19, 2023
UCF gave the Bearcats all they could handle but fell short in their comeback. The Knights did so well, limiting their turnovers while forcing them. UCF almost had all of its starters in double-digits, but Darius Johnson could not make some key shots that would have potentially brought the win. The Knights did have an impressive first game back from Michael Durr, as he led the team in scoring. Durr was an offensive weapon. He scored 15 points in his 29 minutes of action.
8) SMU Mustangs
Last week’s ranking: 8 (-)
Record: 10-18 (5-10)
Last week: @ Wichita State (L) 89-91, #2 Houston (L) 65-80, East Carolina (W) 86-70
Next week: @ USF (Feb. 25 @ 6 p.m.)
Best wins: Utah State, Iona, @ Tulsa
Worst losses: Louisville, Louisiana, Jackson State, Wichita State (x2),@ East Carolina
A brutal loss for the Mustangs as the team battled against Wichita State. SMU forced 25 turnovers, with 11 coming from steals, a new record for the school’s most turnovers in regulation. On those 25 steals, the Mustangs scored 24 points. Zhuric Phelps was lethal in the game scoring 26 points, forcing seven steals, and handing out five assists. Samuell Williamson had a big game as he recorded a double-double scoring 19 points, grabbing ten rebounds, and handing out five assists. The Mustangs had 18 more scoring opportunities from the field, and missed free throw opportunities led to the loss. SMU shot 46.8% from the field, 30% from 3-point range, and 52.7% from the charity stripe.
The overtime game carried into SMU’s loss against the Cougars. The team had too many issues, and a team cannot be near perfect against Houston. SMU had almost all its starters in double-digits but had almost zero help from its bench. Phelps’ 22-point game led the Mustangs. While the team had good ball movement, it missed too many shots and was too soft when rebounding. SMU also struggled at the charity stripe, compounding the loss. Even though the team turned it on in the second half to match Houston, it was a little too late.
𝐒𝐓𝐄𝐀𝐋 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐃𝐔𝐍𝐊🙌#PonyUp pic.twitter.com/zIrOgEmkxF
— SMU Basketball (@SMUBasketball) February 19, 2023
The Mustangs rebounded as they galloped past ECU. The second-chance opportunities from rebounds and forcing the Pirates’ turnovers gave SMU the win. On an offensively efficient day, the Mustangs won by shooting well from within the arc instead of relying on its 3-pointers. SMU shot 50.8% from the field and 31.6% from 3-point range—an impressive offensive showing as all the starters found themselves with double-digits. The Mustangs almost had three players with double-doubles but only ended up with one, Zhuric Phelps. Phelps scored 15 points and handed out ten assists. Williamson led the team in scoring and was one short of a double-double as he scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Finally, Efe Odigie had 18 points and nine rebounds. This team will want to maintain its momentum as it goes on the road to face USF.
9) South Florida Bulls
Last week’s ranking: 9 (-)
Record: 11-16 (4-10)
Last week: @ Cincinnati (L) 65-84, @ Tulsa (W) 96-69, Tulane (L) 66-84
Next week: @ UCF (Feb. 22 – 7 p.m.), SMU (Feb. 25 – 7 p.m.)
Best wins: Saint Joseph’s, Hofstra, @ East Carolina
Worst losses: Southeast Missouri State, Austin Peay, Stetson, Wichita State, @ SMU
The Bulls led against Cincinnati in the first half behind a 17-point performance from Corey Walker Jr. Walker finished the day with 25 points, six rebounds, one steal, and one block. He was the real star in this game, which was the issue as USF fell short against the bearcats. Tyler Harris struggled again, going 3-for-15 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3-point range. Offensively, the Bulls struggled. It also did not help that Cincinnati had more opportunities, as they forced 12 turnovers off of eight steals. USF needed to be aggressive in the paint and get to the free-throw line, but even then, the second half from the Bearcats was a thing of beauty.
1st | Corey Walker Jr. is one fire tonight. This three-pointer ties the game at 19-19 with 7:48 left in the first half.
Walker Jr. has 11 of USF's 19 points.
ESPN+ 📺 https://t.co/B6Pwt1Wqg5 pic.twitter.com/gZHbgT1rPp
— USF Men's Basketball (@USFMBB) February 12, 2023
A dominant win for USF as the offense struggled to miss. USF had four players in double figures. Tyler Harris was the only player to record a double-double putting up ten points and ten assists. Russel Tchewa dominated inside as he led the team in scoring with 21 points and eight rebounds. The Bulls shot 62.1% from the field and 40.9% from 3-point range. The team had good ball movement and forced Tulsa into 18 turnovers, with 15 coming from steals. It was an unfortunate night for the Golden Hurricane, as USF was just in a groove.
USF had a considerable boost from Ryan Conwell, who scored 20 points in the loss to the Green Wave. Tyler Harris was close behind with 19 points. While the Bulls dominated the boards, the turnovers were too much to overcome. USF also struggled to score with a rough 28.6% from 3-point range, 39.3% from the field, and 58.8% from the charity stripe. The Bulls continue to have scoring woes and inconsistent play.
10) East Carolina Pirates
Last week’s ranking: 10 (-)
Record: 13-13 (4-9)
Last week: Cincinnati (W) 75-71, @ SMU (L) 70-86
Next week: @ Tulsa (Feb. 21 – 8 p.m.), #1 Houston (Feb. 25 – 8 p.m.)
Best wins: Toledo, South Carolina, Mercer
Worst losses: Old Dominion, South Carolina State, South Florida (x2), Wichita State, @ SMU
The week started with a massive loss off the court for the Pirates, as the college lost its announcer, Jeff Charles. With a challenging first game back, ECU gave Cincinnati all they could handle.
Rest in Peace to Jeff “The Voice” Charles, one of the best to ever do it. We know you will continue to Paint every game Purple with us from heaven.🏴☠️💜💛 pic.twitter.com/UO86gbwOgA
— East Carolina Men’s Basketball (@ecubasketball) February 11, 2023
ECU’s motivation and time off showed in the second half as the team took down the Bearcats. When all of your starters score double-digits, you are more likely to win. The clear star was Ezra Ausar, who added a double-double to his stats with 14 points and 14 rebounds. At the same time, Brandon Johnson led the team in scoring with 16. The Pirates created second-chance opportunities grabbing 19 offensive rebounds and finishing +19 in the rebounding edge. East Carolina struggled from the charity stripe but had enough opportunities to make a difference shooting 59.1% (13-for-22).
After a solid win against Cincinnati, the Pirates were trampled by SMU. 19 turnovers were the downfall, with 12 coming from SMU steals. On that same note, second-chance opportunities were a massive benefit for the Mustangs, as the team had 10 more offensive rebounds. The Pirates shot the ball well, 46.6% from the field and 39.1% from 3-point range, but SMU was too hot offensively. RJ Felton led his team in scoring with 27 points, plus a double-double for Jaden Walker, who scored 18 points and handed out 10 assists. Neither was enough to help boost this Pirates team as it dropped another game.
11) Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)
Record: 5-21 (1-14)
Last week: @ UCF (L) 52-96, South Florida (L) 69-96, @ Temple (L) 53-76
Next week: ECU (Feb. 21 – 8 p.m.)
Best wins: Loyola-Chicago, Central Michigan, Jackson State
Worst losses: Charlotte, Murray State, @ Wichita State (x2), South Florida
It was another day of offensive struggle against UCF. The Golden Hurricane only made 36.5% of shots from the field and 20.8% from 3-point range. Coach Konkol is struggling to find what works with this team. Bryant Selebangue grabbed a double-double as he scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but Sam Griffin was the only player to break double-digits, with 10 points. Tulsa turned the ball over 16 times, with four coming off steals. The Golden Hurricane only forced three Cincinnati turnovers and only had one steal.
Against USF, Tulsa just ran into a buzzsaw. The team did fine and tried its best to compete, but only won the battle of the boards. The Golden Hurricane grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, seven more than USF. Tulsa had four players score double-digits. Bryant Selebangue was the leader as he scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Tim Dalger was close to a double-double but fell short with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Griffin showing off his range 🎯#ReignCane 👑🌀
📺 ESPNU | https://t.co/57N3ujikWn pic.twitter.com/WIpGQ4X4ze
— Tulsa Basketball (@TUMBasketball) February 19, 2023
After staying competitive in the first half, Tulsa dropped off as the Temple Owls pulled a massive win. The Golden Hurricane did well handling the ball and even shot the ball well from three, at 45%. However, they struggled inside the arc, shooting 32.3% from two. Griffin came off the bench and led the team to score 16 points. Dalger, again, had a good night as he scored 15. Konkol’s team continues to struggle, but in a rebuilding year, I hope he can find a groove between this season and the next.
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