No. 8 Cincinnati edges No. 21 Houston to defend AAC tourney title

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No. 8 Cincinnati edges No. 21 Houston to defend AAC tourney title

Hardaway's Mustangs will be playing in the Tennessee state tournament next week. We didn't come home and do it because I want them to be hungry to do it here.

Houston (26-7), which split a pair of games against Cincinnati during the regular season, lost for just the third time in its last 15 games and is headed to the NCAA Tournament, too.

The 8th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats utilized an 18-2 run to open the second half and erase a 13-point deficit, a surge that proved devastating to the Tigers' upset hopes. The over/under total for the game has been set at 127.5 points.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats were projected to be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and nothing that happens in the AAC Tournament likely would have changed that. Azubuike hurt a ligament in his left knee in practice early in the week and spent the weekend on the bench, though he's expected to return next week. The Cougars had two shots to regain the lead, but Davis and Rob Gray missed jumpers, and after Gray's miss, Houston's Nura Zanna was called for a foul going for the rebound.

Cincinnati trailed 42-29 at halftime but wiped out all of that in the first seven minutes of the second half with an active and aggressive defense.

With the Cougars trailing 74-73, Gray intercepted a pass near midcourt and drove to the basket, handing off to Galen Robinson for a layup with 1:27 remaining. The Tigers beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 84-69 in the SWAC championship game Saturday. If they win, they'd take on top seeded Xavier Friday night in Nashville.

Jacob Evans chased Johnson all over the floor and held him to 0-for-4 shooting after the freshman guard had hit all five of his field attempts in the first half, including four 3-pointers.

Davidson won despite going almost 13 minutes in the second half without making a field goal, a 0-for-11 drought that somehow did not prevent it from celebrating at game's end. Now, the Rams are one step closer to repeating their Selection Sunday itinerary from a year ago. The elder Hunter had torn his Achilles in the Sun Belt Conference championship game celebration a week before. Cincinnati's leading scorer, Gary Clark, had nine points in the first half and was doing what he could to bring Cincinnati back into the game.

Shavar Newkirk had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the fourth-seeded Hawks (16-16), who drubbed Rhode Island 78-48 last week. The Cougars appeared in the NIT the past two seasons. His teammates were shoving him around as he repeatedly tossed up three fingers. After scoring 7 consecutive points, Memphis led 30-20.

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