Memphis 67 Tulsa 64 AAC Quarterfinals

The No. 5 Memphis Tigers (21-12) used a buzzer-beating runner from junior guard Kareem Brewton, Jr. to defeat the No. 4 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (19-12) 67-64.

“It’s just a basketball instinct that you have when the ball come off [your hands] good,” said Brewton. “You feel like its going to go in and that’s what happened.”

The Golden Hurricane struggled shooting all game long. They shot just 41% from the floor, including 2-16 from behind the arc, and 55 percent from the free-throw line. Golden Hurricane head coach Frank Haith expressed he was fine with the shots his team got, but called the shooting performance “unfortunate.”

“We had some really good looks; we just didn’t knock any of them down,” Haith said.

Meanwhile, Memphis had its own struggles as the Tigers had 13 first-half turnovers and 18 overall for the game. Tigers’ head coach Tubby Smith said it was certainly a topic of conversation at halftime.

“We talked about taking care of the basketball,” Smith said. “We had quite a few turnovers.”

Memphis was led by Brewton and junior forward Kyvon Davenport, who both finished with 15 points. Senior guard Corey Henderson, Jr. led Tulsa with 20 while junior guard Sterling Taplin added 14.

Memphis moves on to face No. 1 Cincinnati in the semifinals. Tulsa hopes to continue its season in the NIT.

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Cincinnati 61 SMU 51 AAC Quarterfinals

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.

BRACKETOLOGY: Friday March 9, 2018

This bracket is good for games through 3/8

Last Four In: Oklahoma, Baylor, Alabama, Middle Tennessee

Last Four Out: Louisville, Arizona St, Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame

Next Four Out: Temple, Utah, Syracuse, Mississippi St

SOUTH

1.Virginia16.Hampton/LIU-Brooklyn(NEC) Charlotte

8.Butler9.UCLA

5.Texas Tech12.Buffalo Dallas

4.Wichita St13.Old Dominion

6.Clemson11.Middle Tennessee/Oklahoma Dallas

3.Purdue14.Bucknell(Patriot)

7.Rhode Island10.Oklahoma St Nashville

2.Auburn15.Montana

WEST

1.Kansas16.Harvard Wichita

8.Seton Hall9.NC State

5.Houston12.Alabama/Baylor San Diego

4.Arizona13.Louisiana Lafayette

6.Florida11.Florida St Wichita

3.Michigan(B10)14.College of Charleston(CAA)

7.Kansas St10.Providence Charlotte

2.Duke15.Iona(MAAC)

MIDWEST

1.Xavier16.Radford(BSouth) Pittsburgh

8.Virginia Tech9.Texas A&M

5.Ohio St12.New Mexico St Boise

4.Gonzaga(WCC)13.Vermont

6.Nevada11.Texas Boise

3.Tennessee14.UC-Davis

7.TCU10.USC Detroit

2.Cincinnati15.Wright St(Horizon)

EAST

1.Villanova16.SE Louisiana/Arkansas Pine-Bluff Pittsburgh

8.Missouri9.St. Bonaventure

5.Miami(FL)12.Murray St(OVC) San Diego

4.West Virginia3.South Dakota St(Summit)

6.Kentucky11.Loyola-Chicago(MVC) Nashville

3.North Carolina14.UNC-Greensboro(SoCon)

7.Arkansas10.Creighton Detroit

2.Michigan St15.Lipscomb(ASun

UCF 66 ECU 52 AAC First Round

The No. 6 UCF Knights used a late run to pull away from the No. 11 ECU Pirates in their 66-52 win in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Championship.

UCF’s defense stifled ECU for most of the night, but the Pirates were able to cut the Knights lead to 46-45 with 9:36 remaining after a 13-0 run. ECU head coach Michael Perry said he thought his team executed better during that period.

“I thought we were able to get the ball moving and ball reversal,” Perry said. “The ball didn’t stick and we didn’t over-dribble during that period of time.”

The Knights would respond with a 20-7 run to end the game. That run was due to UCF’s calling card; it’s defense.

“Well we needed to get back to the basics,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “Usually we fuel what we do defensively and actually [UCF senior forward A.J. Davis] said in the huddle at that timeout and it was great because he was echoing the things that we know we talk about.”

Junior guard B.J. Taylor led the Knights with 17 points while Davis added 14. The Pirates were led by freshman guard Shawn Williams’ 17 points with senior guard B.J. Tyson chipping in 14.

UCF moves on to play No. 3 Houston on Friday night. The loss ends ECU’s season.

Temple 82 Tulane 77 AAC First Round

The No. 7 Temple Owls (17-14) held off a pesky challenge from the No. 10 Tulane Green Wave (14-17) in 82-77 win.

The Owls began the game slowly as the Green Wave was able to jump out to a 13-4 lead at the first media timeout of the game. That advantage didn’t last long as Owls were able to fight their way back into the game to take a 39-35 lead at halftime.

“We talked about getting off to a good start, but unfortunately we wasn’t able to,” senior guard Josh Brown said. “We didn’t put our heads down like we did the last game. We just kind of came together and fought back.”

The start of the second half was a much different affair for Temple as they quickly extended their lead to 52-39 by the first media timeout of the second half. Tulane wouldn’t go away thought and they clawed their way back into the game and even had a chance to tie the game with less than 10 seconds remaining.

“I was proud of the way our guys fought back,” Tulane head coach Mike Dunleavy said. “It’s kind of been a trait that we have had all year long – that we have been able to come from behind and win ball games.”

Temple was led by senior forward Obi Enechionyia with 19 points while junior guard Shizz Alston, Jr. finished with 17. Tulane was paced by senior guard Cameron Reynolds’ 22 and junior guard Melvin Frazier’s 15.

Temple moves on to play the No. 2 Wichita St Shockers on Friday. Tulane’s season comes to an end.

Note: Temple guard J.P. Moorman II went down with a leg injury late in the game. Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said they were still trying to assess the severity of the injury.

Memphis 79 USF 77 AAC First Round

 

 

MemphisUSFPostgame
Memphis head coach Tubby Smith along with Kyvon Davenport, David Nickelberry and Kareem Brewton, Jr. meet with the media

 

No. 5 Memphis (20-12) bent, but didn’t break down the stretch as the Tigers held on to beat the No. 12 USF Bulls (10-22) 79-77 in Thursday’s first round of the American Athletic Conference championship.

“I’m really proud of how guys hung in there today and finished the game,” Memphis head coach Tubby Smith said. “Even though we lost the lead there, we still did the things to get the win.”

The Tigers held a double-digit lead for much of the second half, but watched it dwindle away late in the game due to scrappy play by the Bulls and their own sloppy play. It is something that junior guard Kareem Brewton, Jr. says Memphis needs to clean up as it takes a step up against No. 4 Tulsa on Friday.

“I feel like we should execute a little bit more – get back to running our plays,” Brewton said. “I felt like we got out of that a little bit at the end.”

Off the court, it’s been a trying week for Smith. A CBS Sports’ Gary Parish report that the Memphis administration was mulling giving the coaching job to Memphis native and former Tiger Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Then before the game news broke that Smith’s son, GiGi, was fired as the head coach of Loyola (Md.). Smith said he personally feels supported by the administration, but the business of coaching is tough.

“It’s the profession we chose and unfortunately, you are hired to be fired usually unless you’re in some program that’s just unbelievable,” Smith said.

Memphis was paced by junior forward Kyvon Davenport, who finished with 27 points, while freshman guard David Nickleberry chipped in 14 off the bench. USF’s freshman guard David Collins poured in a career high 30 points for the Bulls with senior guard Stephan Jiggetts chipping in 16.

The Tigers, who’ve now won 6 of their last 7, get to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive one more day as they face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Friday. USF’s season is over.

 

 

 

SMU 80 UConn 73 AAC First Round

In the first game of the 2018 American Athletic Conference Championship, No. 9 SMU (17-15) defeated No. 8 UConn (14-18) 80-73.

The Mustangs were led by senior guard Ben Emelogu’s 23 points and senior forward Akoy Agau’s 21. Sophomore guard Christian Vital led the Huskies with 24 while senior guard Antoine Anderson had 19.

SMU head coach Tim Jankovich said he was not only happy with the win, but he was particularly happy to see Emelogu and Agau play so well. He said the two players have been going through several off the court issues.

“I swore I would challenge anyone, ever, to find me a couple guys who have been through more amazingly difficult adversity in their careers than [Emelogu and Agau],” he said.

The loss capped a disappointing season for UConn as they’ll miss the NCAA tournament for the second season in a row. It has led to speculation about Ollie’s job security. After the game, Ollie said he expected to return as coach next season, but he also said he needed to evaluate everything he did as a coach.

“I’m gonna assess everything I’ve done as a coach and see how I can get better,” Ollie said.

“I can’t name out a list, but we don’t want to be here,” he continued. “We don’t want to be 14-18.”

With the win, SMU will move on to face No. 1 Cincinnati on Friday. UConn’s season is over.

NOTE: Agau twisted his ankle late in the game. He said he’ll ice it up and be good to go on Friday vs. Cincinnati.