Written by Austin Fackler
ORLANDO, Fla. -Coming into the AAC Championship game, Houston and Cincinnati had played twice splitting the series with both teams winning on their home floor so these teams new what to expect coming into Sunday’s matchup.
The Bearcats came out strong hitting on all cylinders converting 5 of their first 7 shots including 2 three pointers that helped Cincinnati jump out to an early 12-4 lead with 15 minutes to play. Cincinnati would not be able to keep Houston quiet for long and after a Corey Davis Jr. three pointer cut the Bearcats lead to 6 halfway through the first half the Cougars would go on a 9-0 run and get the lead down to 2 trailing 22-20 with 8:39 to play in the first half. After adding to their run to 16-2 Houston had a 27-22 lead with 7:02 to play in the first half. The pace of the game would slow down and after both teams exchanged baskets down the stretch of the first half the game was tied with 2 minutes to play before halftime. Back to back threes from Rob Gray and Corey Davis Jr. gave the Cougars a 37-35 halftime lead.
Corey Davis Jr. was the leading scorer for Houston at halftime finishing the quarter 5-7 with all his shots coming from three point land, Rob Gray also added 12. The Cougars shot 52% in the half and 53% from three.
The Bearcats were led by Gary Clark who finished the half with 13 points Jacob Evans also added 10. Cincinnati shot 50% from the field and 33% from three.
The second half started very differently than the first with both teams slowing down the pace with Cincinnati grabbing the lead 3 minutes into the half 40-37. Houston would climb back on top after a fast break layup from Corey Davis Jr. which made the score 42-40 with 14 minutes left to play in the game. The pace of the game slowed when fouls started to become an issue for both teams late in the half, Houston opened up a 6 points lead with 7 minutes to play. The Bearcats would claw their way back however going on an 8-2 run to take a one-point lead into the final 3 minutes of the game.
Heading into the final minute of the game The Cougars held a three-point lead that was vanished when Bearcat forward Kyle Washington hit a three to tie the game. The following possession saw Rob Gray miss a three point attempt and Cincinnati’s Gary Clark put the Bearcats ahead by one with 4 second remaining in the game.
After the free throws Houston called a timeout to set up what they had hoped to be a game winning play. After the timeout the Cougars star guard Rob Gray had the ball in his hands, but a miscommunication between players saw Grays pass dribble out of bound with 1 second on the clock and that would be all she wrote for the Cougars who lose a heartbreaker 56-55
Houston was led by Rob Gray who finished with 17 points, Corey Davis Jr. finished with 15 points.
Cincinnati was led by AAC Tournament MVP Gary Clark who finished the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Jacob Evans finished the game with 12 points.
Houston earned a 6th seed in the NCAA tournament and will head to Wichita, Kansas for a 1st round matchup against 11th seeded San Diego State. Cincinnati secured a 2 seed and heads to Nashville, Tennessee for a matchup against 15th seeded Georgia State.
Writer - Ernie Casanova
ORLANDO, Fla. - To start the first half, Cincinnati came storming out in the opening minutes and took a commanding 10-2 lead in the first four minutes. Houston visibly struggled adjusting to the pressure from the Bearcats’ defense for the first ten minutes, accumulating five fouls with three of them coming on offense. The Bearcats were taking advantage of their offensive rebounds, scoring 12 second-chance points compared to Houston’s zero. With a pro-Cincinnati crowd here at the Amway Center, the Cougars didn’t flounder.
After a 16-2 run by the Cougars, they took the lead and were effective in slowing down the Bearcats’ quick start. Cougar guard Rob Gray had to take some time to get his momentum going, but he eventually got into form similar to his amazing game from the night prior. Gray has 12 points for the Cougars while Corey Davis Jr. leads the team with 15 points, shooting 5-7 from three-point range.
Houston picked up the slack in the winding minutes and finished the first half shooting 54% from beyond the arc. Forward Gary Clark leads the Bearcats with 13 points and six rebounds, quickly flirting with a double-double. Forward Jacob Evans is second in line with 10 points and four rebounds. Houston heads into the locker room leading Cincinnati, 37-35.
Written by Austin Fackler
ORLANDO, Fla. - The AAC championship game will see the number one seeded Cincinnati Bearcats face off against the third seeded Houston Cougars for the third time this season with both teams having wins on their home floors. In January Cincinnati won 80-70 and in February it was a hard fought game that saw Houston come away with a 5 point win.
The Cougars are coming off of a thrilling win over Wichita State where point guard Rob Gray scored 33 points including 8 of the teams last 10 points. He will need to be the catalyst for the Cougar offense heading into the championship game on Sunday.
As for the Bearcats their win Saturday afternoon was sparked by Gary Clarks 17 points and 12 rebounds but Cincinnati will need production from other players like team leading scorer Jacob Evens. The Bearcats were 1st in the American Athletic Conference finishing the season 29-4.
Houston players are excited to make it to the championship game, Head Coach Kelvin Sampson was asked to share some of his thoughts on Cincinnati after the Coogs big win over Wichita State.
“Clark and Washington and then the other two bigs, Scott and Brooks off the bench, they pose a problem. Evans is really playing well. And then the Broome kid, who really wasn't a factor the first two games has really stepped up his game.” Sampson followed that up saying “it's not going to be the toughest team that wins because both teams are tough. It's going to be the teams that your best players have to step up and play well in a game like this”
As for Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin he was asked how important it is to win this tournament, “I've been lucky and fortunate to coach basketball at this level for a long time now. I think my 15th year as a head coach, but it's Gary Clark and Kyle Washington's last chance to win a conference tournament. They could have two games left in their college career. So to think that we're not trying to win the game tomorrow -- the tournament, winning the tournament, there's a game and they keep score for a reason”
The AAC Championship game starts at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and will be aired on CBS.
Written by Ernie Casanova
ORLANDO, Fla. - With an AAC Championship game berth on the line, both Wichita State and the Houston Cougars were coming off of hard-fought contests from the night before. It was a game where defense and earned possessions mattered, as each team physically assured the other that it was going to be a tough battle. After many three-pointers and multiple shots from the charity line, Houston held on late to defeat the Shockers 77-74.
Things got off to a very slow start for both teams. As Wichita State scored the first basket of the game on a Rashard Kelly two-point jumper, Houston guard Breaon Brady answered back with a layup shortly after. Conner Frankamp scored a bucket of his own a couple of minutes later for the Shockers to give them a short lead of 4-2, but Houston went on an 8-0 run to spice things up a little bit. Wichita State was struggling from the floor early, shooting 5-17 in the first 11 minutes and committing four turnovers.
While the Shockers were in search for their momentum, the Cougars were capitalizing on their opponent’s missed chances. Houston scored five points off of six Shockers turnovers and was also thriving in the paint, scoring 16 of their 32 points there. Starting guard Corey Davis Jr. led the Cougars in the first half with 12 points while guard Rob Gray sat behind him with nine points of his own. For the Shockers, it was a community effort as eight players had at least two points. Guard Conner Frankamp led the team with seven points as Wichita State shot a sub-par 28% from the floor in the first half and the Cougars went into the locker room with a 37-31 lead.
In the second half, the game started to unfold much more quickly. Davis Jr. started things off with a smooth three-pointer to build a larger lead, but the Shockers weren’t having it. Wichita State’s Landry Shamet scored 8 of their next nine points, with two of those shots from beyond the arc as he traded a three-pointer with Davis Jr. on back to back possessions. At the 12 minute mark, Wichita State cut their deficit to two points after a layup by Austin Reaves made it a 47-45 game.
As Houston made it a trend to start slipping away with the lead, the Shockers kept answering back and eventually tied it with 9 minutes left to play at 54-54 on another Shamet three-pointer. Both teams played hard in the remaining minutes and kept trading buckets, but Houston didn’t want to give up just yet. The Shockers gained the lead with three minutes left, but a surging Rob Gray for the Cougars was annihilating his competition. Gray sunk in a crowd-silencing three-pointer to tie the game at 72 and add to his already spectacular numbers.
After Wichita State turned the ball over on an inbounds pass with five seconds left, the Cougars finished it off. Both defenses played tremendously in situational moments, but the 12 turnovers forced by Houston certainly didn’t help the Shockers. Leading Houston was Gray with 33 points, going 8-21 from the floor and 4-10 from three-point range. Behind him was Corey Davis Jr. with 19 points. The Shockers had Landry Shamet as their leading scorer with 19 points and four assists, with Shaquille Morris second in line with 12 points and five rebounds.
Houston will now return to the Amway Center on Sunday to face the Cincinnati Bearcats in the AAC Championship game at 3:30 PM ET.
Writer - Austin Fackler
ORLANDO, Fla. - Both teams would start the game out slowly trying to figure out where they would get their offense from. Wichita State scored first and it wasn’t until 16:59 on the clock that Houston scored to tie it at 2. Houston would find a groove getting a 15-11 lead halfway through the first half.
Houston stayed on the attack increasing their lead to 9 mid-way through Wichita State would find a groove eventually and cut into the Cougar lead 26-22 with 5 minutes to play in the first half.
The Cougars would halt any type of run the Shockers would get going with good defense and even better offense. The Shockers were plagued by poor shooting, shooting just 26% in the first half.
Houston takes a 6 point lead into halftime shooting 40% from the field being led by Corey Davis Jr. who finished the half with 12 points.
Written by Austin Fackler
ORLANDO, Fla. - Semifinal action began between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Memphis Tigers tipped off in the afternoon Saturday. The Tigers were coming off of a buzzer beater win and were looking to keep that magic alive against the top-seeded Bearcats.
The Tigers started hot going on a 9-2 run to set the tone for the game, it wasn’t long until the top seeded Bearcats found their rhythm scoring and after falling behind by 9 with 7 minutes to play in the first half they would hit back to back 3’s to draw within three. The Tigers would halt that run however by scoring 7 straight points of their own to draw the lead to 10 30-20 with 4 minutes to play.
The Tigers continued to play well shooting 51% percent from the field and 58% from three hitting 7 of their 12 attempts. This helped them grow their lead to 13 at halftime with the score at 42-29.
The Tigers were led by Jamal Johnson who finished the first half with 17 points shooting a perfect 5-5 from the field including 4 three pointers.
For Cincinnati it was Gary Clark leading the way with 9 points.
Cincinnati came storming out of the gates scoring 10 straight points to cut the Memphis lead to just 3 two minutes into the second half. The run wouldn’t stop there though as a pair of free throws from the Bearcats brought within two with 16 minutes to play in the second half. The Bearcats would take the lead with 13 minutes to play off of an and one conversion from Kyle Washington gave the Bearcats a 45-44 lead.
The second half was all Cincinnati as they turned up the intensity on offense and defense only allowing Memphis to score 10 points while scoring 30 of their own, which gave them a 59-52 lead.
The Tigers wouldn’t go away quietly keeping the game close down the stretch not allowing Cincinnati’s lead to grow more than 10 staying within striking range. The Bearcats defense was too much for Memphis to overcome through the final minutes however as Cincinnati would come away with the 70-60 victory to advance to the AAC Championship.
Cincinnati was led by Gary Clark who finished the game with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Memphis was led by Jamal Johnson who finished with 17 points, with none coming in the second half.
Cincinnati now advances to the AAC Mens basketball Championship game on Sunday, where they will face the winner of Wichita State and Houston.
Writer - Ernie Casanova
ORLANDO, Fla. - Memphis got off to a very fast start against the Bearcats Saturday. Tigers starting guard Jamal Johnson had the hot hand early. After draining the first bucket of the game with a three pointer, Johnson again sunk in another triple to put Memphis up 6-0.
Shortly after, things died down a bit as Memphis starting guard Jimario Rivers fell hard on his head and had to be helped off the floor. After play resumed, Cincinnati forward Kyle Washington scored a contested layup to put the Bearcats on the board and after two missed free throws from Memphis, guard Jarron Cumberland scored the next points for them. It was now 9-4 as Cincinnati started to march back with a quick run to cut the deficit.
After a few physical possessions and much back and forth, both teams started set their tempo. Memphis kept looking for the three-pointers while Cincinnati was imposing their will in the paint. The Tigers were nailing three-pointers left and right, shooting 50% from beyond the arc in the first half.
Memphis’s Jamal Johnson shot 100% from the field, with four of his five shots coming from downtown as he led the team at the half with 17 points. For the Bearcats, forward Gary Clark leads the team with nine points and five rebounds. At the end of the half, Memphis leads Cincinnati 42-29.
Written by Austin Fackler
ORLANDO, Fla. - The last quarterfinal of the 2018 American Athletic Conference Tournament matched up the 6th seeded UCF Knights and the 3rd seeded Houston Cougars.
Both teams started off very strong hitting shots, with Houston shooting 70% half way through the first half and jumping out to a 21-13 lead. While UCF was shooting 50% from the field it was not enough to keep up the high-powered offense of the Cougars who were getting everything they wanted offensively.
The Cougars would grow their lead to 12 with 8 minutes remaining in the first half. The Knights were having trouble converting anything on offense down the stretch in the first half as Houston grew their lead to 16 late in the first half.
Houston was lead in the first half by Devin Davis who finished the first half with 14 points on 6-6 shooting with two threes to help give the Cougars a 40-27 halftime lead.
UCF came out of halftime fighting for their postseason lives cutting into the Cougars lead early and getting it down to nine just 3 minutes into the second half. However, the Knights offense would again stagger mid-way through the second half going scoreless for 4 minutes while Houston went on an 6-0 run to increase their lead back to 14. It was more of the same throughout the second half as UCF shot 29% with the Cougars extending their lead to 19 with 4 minutes to play. The Cougars were too much for The Knights to handle as they would walk away with a 84-56 win.
Houston had 5 players finish in double digits but were led by Rob Gray who had 17.
The Knights were led by B.J. Taylor who finished with 20.
The Cougars will be back in action Saturday where they will face off against 2nd seeded Wichita State in the AAC semi-final game.
Writer - Adrian Beecher
ORLANDO, Fla. - UCF won the tip, but it would be the Cougars of Houston getting the first basket of the game as Davin Davis put in a jumper from 8 feet away.
UCF's first basket of the night would come on a triple from Dayon Griffin. The first three baskets of the night would be triples, as the Knights got rolling with an early 9-6 lead with 16:56 left in the first half.
Houston would then go on an 11-2 run as they took a six-point lead. With 11: 48 left to play in the 1st half, the Coogs would stretch their lead to eight as Galen Robinson Jr. put in a basket to make it 21-13.
UCF cut the deficit back to six, two minutes later, however, Houston continued to slowly but surely pull away. With 7:30 left to play, Devin Davis hit a jumper for his 14th point of the game, giving Houston a 14 point lead.
The Knight would trim the lead to 10 points with 2:43 left to play. But then two minutes later, the Coogs had extended the lead back to 16.
As the final buzzer sounded, BJ Taylor hit a triple to cut the Cougars lead at 40-27.
Written by Austin Fackler
ORLANDO, Fla. - Wichita State's first ever appearance in the AAC Mens Basketball tournament started out with success as the held off Temple's upset bit for a 89-81 victory.
The second round action between the Wichita State Shockers and the Temple Owls got off to a fast start with the Shockers converting an and-1 on their first possession of the game following that up with two three pointers from Landry Shamet to give the Shockers a 5 point lead heading into the first media timeout. Temple would give the Shockers all they could handle though keeping the lead short as they were able to cut it down do 4 with just under 8 to play in the first half. With under 4 minutes to play the Owls were able to get the lead down to 3 but after some back and forth Wichita State guard Landry Shamet hit a three just before the buzzer to give the Shockers a 6 point lead heading into halftime.
Shamet led the way for the Shockers hitting 5 three pointers and ending the half with 17 points. For the Owls it was Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. and Josh Brown who both contributed 8 to help the Owls stay close throughout the first half.
Temple came out of the half strong cutting the Shocker lead down to 1 but the Shockers would not stay quiet for long going on a quick 6-0 run to get their lead up to seven 50-43 at the first media timeout. Wichita State quickly grew there lead to 10 with 13:30 to play in the second half. After two quick steals and a 10-2 run the Owls cut the lead down to 2, after some back and forth between the two teams Wichita State was able to pull away and get their lead to 10 with 4:46 remaining in the game.
Down the stretch the Owls would not go away cutting the Shockers lead multiple times but the lowest it would get is 3 with 2:23 left in the game. The rim was not being kind to the Owls however as they missed a layup that would have cut the lead to 1 but that is as close as the Shockers would let it get as they would pull away yet again at the end and keep the lead this time coming away with a 89-81 win.
The Shockers were led by Landry Shamet who scored 24 points 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Rahshard Kelly also pitched in with 16 points and 7 rebounds. The Owls leading scorer was Qunitin Rose who finished with 25 points. The Shockers move on to face the winner of Houston/UCF on Saturday night.
Writer - Adrian Beecher
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Shockers got the scoring started with a bucket and one from the free throw line from Rashard Kelly. On the ensuing possession, the owls got two free throws of their own.
Wichita State would then start a string of three consecutive triples as they jumped enjoyed a marginal 12-6 lead over the Owls with 15:55 left in the 1st half.
Temple would cut the deficit to 1 quickly, before the Shockers went on a 9-2 run to take their largest lead of the first half at eight points, leading 21-13 with 11:00 left on the clock.
Fighting to keep their season alive, the Owls didn't fly away from this one. Over the next five minutes, Temple would work diligently to trim Wichita State's lead. With 6:36 left in the half, Ernest Aflakpui put in a layup to make it just a 1 point game.
Down the final stretch of the first half, the Shockers would extend their lead to six twice. However, they were unable to pull away as Temple stuck around. As the final buzzer sounded to end the first half, Landry Shamet hit a triple to give the Shockers a 42-36 lead.
The leading scorer at the half for Wichita was Shamet, who had 17 points with 15 coming from his 5 of 6 shooting beyond the arch. For Temple, it was Josh Brown and Shizz Alston Jr. both had 8 points.
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