SMU beats Cincinnati 71-56 for AAC championship

"We had to get off to a good start, jump on them early", Brown said. He scored the Hurricane's first six in the second half, but by then it was too late. UConn shot 39 percent from the field, while Cincinnati shot 38 percent.

Cincinnati made just 8 of 33 shots from the field in the first half, including only 1 of 12 from the 3-point line, as the Mustangs executed solid defensive rotations and forced hard shots. Instead, SMU had one of the best seasons in school history with Tim Jankovich at the helm.

UConn cut a 12-point halftime lead to two on a 3-pointer by Rodney Purvis with just over 13 minutes to go, but that was as close as the Huskies would get in the second half.

Follow along for live scores and updates from the AAC tournament championship game. They kept the Bearcats at arm's length behind balanced scoring and tough defense.

Gary Clark led Cincinnati with 25 points.

In 2015, SMU beat Cincy, 62-54, in the conference tournament championship.

The Mustangs have earned a 6 seed and will play in the East Region. They are one of just seven teams in that position (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina, VCU and Wisconsin).

"We had an unbelievable year", Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said. "There's multiple games, I can tell you, we wouldn't have won if we didn't have second-chance points". "But I think that it's pretty obvious that nobody was really impressed with that".

The SMU Mustangs (29-4) are coming from a 70-59 win over UCF in which Sterling Brown scored 22 points in 6-for-9 shooting from the field and 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Ojeleye said the team got better as the tournament progressed. "Our chemistry is as high as any team in the country". The Mustangs have held 24 of its last 27 opponents to 66 points or fewer.

Cincinnati also will be a sixth seed.

Meanwhile, the Bearcats also picked up a sixth seed in the South Region and will meet the victor of a First Four game between Kansas State and Wake Forest on Friday in Sacramento, Calif.

Join Paul Dehner Jr., Lindsay Patterson, Cashmere Wright, Steve Wolf, Rick Broering and Terry Nelson at The Holy Grail Tavern and Grille to break down the NCAA Tournament outlook for teams of local interest.

  • Julie Sanders