The No. 1 Cincinnati Bearcats pounded the No. 8 SMU Mustangs on the boards in route to a 61-51 win the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
“We played hard enough to get a win in the second half,” Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said post game. “We picked it up on the defensive end. We picked it up on the backboard.
The Bearcats out-rebounded SMU 39-32 overall and 14-9 on the offensive glass. That led to a 17-7 advantage in second-chance points. SMU head coach Tim Jankovich said that disparity was exasperated by his team’s depth issues forcing him to play zone.
“We’ve got seven people, some playing hurt,” Jankovich said. “We had to make that choice that we had to become a zone team and when you do that, rebounding is far more difficult.”
Senior forward Kyle Washington led Cincinnati with 15 points while junior guard Cane Broome added 13. AAC Player of the Year Gary Clark grabbed 11 boards to go along with 12 points.
SMU junior guard Jahmal McMurray led SMU with 17 points with senior guard Ben Emelogu II adding 11.
Cincinnati moves on to the face the winner of No. 5 Memphis vs. No. 4 Tulsa in the semifinals. SMU awaits to see if the NIT will come calling.