It’s the second day of the American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship and one quarter of the teams have fallen out. With only one mild upset in Round 1, with 9 seed SMU beating 8 seed UConn, there will be no huge upsets possible in Round 2.
Game 5 Round 2
Top seed Cincinnati enjoyed their first round bye and was well rested for the SMU Mustangs, a team the Bearcats had bested twice this season by an average margin of more than 22 points. SMU took the two losses to heart and came out playing hard, taking the lead early in the game. They wouldn’t hold it long, as Cincinnati went up by one two minutes into the game, but the Mustangs held tight to the Bearcats, trading leads multiple times in the first half and trailing by just one, 28-27 at halftime.
The game remained close into the second half, with Cincinnati leading 46-45 with 6:45 remaining in the game. That’s when the Bearcats found another gear and went on a 13-2 run to go up by a dozen with less than three minutes to go. SMU would score a handful more, but barely cut into the double digit Cincinnati lead. Bearcats beat the Mustangs for the third time in a season, 61-51.
Jahmal McMurray had solid game for the losing team, scoring 17 points. The only other Mustang in double digits, though, was Ben Emelogu, who finished with 11. SMU shot less than 40% from the field.
Three Bearcats broke the decade scoring barrier. Kyle Washington was the leader of the trio, with 15. Cane Broome had 13 and Gary Clark finished with a dozen, plus 11 rebounds.
Cincinnati will face the winner of the Memphis – Tulsa game on Saturday at 1 PM EST.
Game 6 Round 2
Tulsa and Memphis split the regular season matchups with the home team winning each game. Tulsa earned the first round bye by finishing fourth in the regular season. Memphis escaped USF by two points, 79-77 in Game 2 to advance to the second round.
The first half of the first half of the game was led by the Golden Hurricane. Their lead remained small and Memphis took it away with 10:41 on the clock when Jamal Johnson sank a three-pointer to go up by two, 15-13. A 10-3 Memphis run gave them a ten point lead with just under four minutes remaining in the half. Tulsa rallied 9-0 to close the period trailing by one, 26-25.
Memphis would control much of the second half, leading by as many as 11 points on multiple occasions. Tulsa pushed back and tied the game at 50 with 7:28 to go. Leads changed several more times, but it was a 64-64 tie with four seconds on the game clock. Just when it was looking like overtime, Kareem Brewton Jr. knocked down a three-pointer as time expired to give Memphis the win, 67-64.
Brewton Jr. and Kyle Davenport led Memphis scoring with 15 points apiece. Mike Parks Jr. and Johnson scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Core Hederson Jr. had a very good game in the loss, scoring 20 points to lead Tulsa. The only other Golden Hurricane to score in double digits were Sterling Taplin, 14, and Junior Etou, who had 13 with 12 rebounds.
Memphis will advance to face Cincinnati in Round 3 on Saturday at 1 PM EST.
Game 7 Round 2
Second seed Wichita State breaks their bye with Temple in Game 7. Temple advanced after beating Tulane, 82-77 in the first round. The Owls and Shockers split the regular season games, with the Owls handing Wichita State a rare loss. The stage was set for a consequential series tie breaker.
The Shockers took an early lead with Rashard Kelly layup to begin the game. They would hold the lead throughout the second, pushing that lead up nine points, 25-16, with 9:06 on the clock. A 10-2 run by the Owls got them within one, 27-26 with more than six minutes to go in the half. Landry Shamet sunk a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Shockers a 42-36 lead at the break.
The second half mirrored the pattern of the first. Wichita State held the lead early, building a ten point lead by 13:43, 55-45. Temple then went on a 10-2 run to get within a pair, 57-55 with 11:28 to go. The Shockers again pulled away, leading by a dozen with less than five minutes remaining in the game, 76-64. The Owls would get within four with two minutes to go, but Wichita State held control, winning by 8, 89-81.
Josh Brown and Shizz Alston Jr. scored 15 each for the Owls. Quinton Rose was the star, though, knocking down 25, leading all scorers.
For the Shockers, it was Landry Shamet with 24 to lead his team to the victory. Kelly Rashard scored 16 and Austin Reaves had 14. Shaquille Morris scored 10 points with eight rebounds.
The Shockers will play the winner of the Houston / UCF game on Saturday at 3:30 PM EST.
Game 8 Round 2
UCF’s first round win over ECU, 66-52, earned them a spot against 3 seed Houston the second round. The Knights and the Cougars played just once in the regular season, a 69-65 win for Houston in Orlando.
The two teams traded the lead early in the first half of the game, but by 9:05, the Cougars had an 11 point lead. They would lead by as many as 16 points before taking a 40-27 advantage into the locker rooms.
Things got worse for the Knights in the second half. Houston maintained double digit leads for almost every minute of the half. Houston’s lead stretched to 20 with under four minutes to go. UCF couldn’t hold the Cougars back, who ended up pulling away to a 84-56 win, sending the hometown Knights home early.
B. J. Taylor looked strong for UCF, scoring 20 points to lead his team in the loss. The only other Knight in double digits was Caesar deJesus, who scored ten.
No less than five Cougars finished in double digits. They were led by Galen Robinson Jr. with 18 points. Rob Gray scored 17, Devin Davis had 16, while Armoni Brooks and Corey Davis Jr. scored 10 apiece.
With the win, Houston advances to face Wichita State in Game 10 on Saturday at 3:30 PM EST.