Mustangs' AAC Tournament title proves they are, and always were, a contender

Trevor Jackson
March 14, 2017

The Mustangs, thought to be in line for a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, were placed as the No. 6 seed at the East Regional.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY The Bearcats are making their 31st overall appearance in the NCAA Championship, seventh consecutive and 21st in the past 26 seasons. Sterling Brown led the effort for SMU by scoring 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. They shot 50 percent from the field and made 10 of their 19 shots from 3-point range.

"Let's be honest, CT did a great job feeding off that crowd", Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. The victory gives them a 30-win season and also a clean sweep of the conference after having gone 17-1 during the regular season to win that crown as well. The Mustangs never trailed in the game. "From that, there was no looking back. They were just a better team today".

The Mustangs had a little momentum going into halftime after Ben Emelogu sank a three-pointer at the buzzer to put them up 32-23. The Mustangs are a team that could very well make it to the Sweet 16.

Tournament MVP Simi Ojeleye added 14 points, Jarrey Foster had 13 and Ben Moore scored 12 for Mustangs (30-4), who won their 16th straight game and second AAC title in three years.

The Huskies reached the conference championship in Hartford two years ago as the sixth seed, but lost to SMU.

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"I've been telling people how good they [SMU] are for a long time", Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said postgame. The Bearcats claimed 66-64 victory at Fifth Third Arena on January 12 while SMU grabbed a 60-51 win at Moody Coliseum on February 12. SMU beat UCF 70-59 in the semifinals, and Cincinnati defeated UConn 81-71 in the other semi. "It was only a matter of time until we hit our stride in tournament play".

"We just had to take our time to get our rhythm", he said.

Jacob Evans is averaging a team-high 20.5 points, shooting 76.5 percent (13 of 17) from the field and 100 percent from beyond the arc (6 of 6) during the 2017 American Championship.

"I think I am getting a lot more healthy game by game", said Adams, who has played 79 minutes in two tournament wins despite a moderate left ankle sprain. The Mustangs have held 24 of its last 27 opponents to 66 points or fewer.

UC (29-5) is the No. 6 seed in the South Region while the No. 11 seed will be either Kansas State (20-13) or Wake Forest (19-13). It will open play in the South Region on Friday in Sacramento, California against the victor of the Kansas State/Wake Forest game.

Cincinnati also will be a sixth seed.

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