10 things we learned about the American Athletic Conference after four weeks:
- SEPARATION HAS BEGUN: Almost half way through league play, the AAC is splitting in two directions. The top five schools all on multi-game winning streaks and the bottom five are on multi-game losing skids.
- KEEP ON TRUCKIN’: Cincinnati is off to its best 21-game stretch (19-2) since the 2001-02 season when it finished 31-4 under Bob Huggins and went to the Round of 32 in the NCAAs.
- DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS: Rutgers became the second school (UConn) to find out how tough a Texas two-step can be, dropping road games to Houston and SMU. Due to scheduling, only one other school has to try it, and that will be Temple next month.
- SOUND OF SILENCE: UConn guard Shabazz Napier has pulled of some amazing moments this season, but quieting a sold-out crowd at the RAC in the second half Saturday night ranks up there. Napier scored 20 of his 26 points after the break in a full gym that at times was so silent you could hear coach Kevin Ollie talking to his assistants from halfway up in the stands.
- TEMPLE’S TROUBLES: OK, the Owls entered the season short-handed with just 10 players and have battled injuries, but here’s the troubling sign with Fran Dunphy’s group – they don’t defense (76.4 ppg, last in AAC).
- STAND AND DELIVER: SMU and UConn have garnered votes in the polls, but beating up the Rutgers of the league won’t get them in. They need a statement win. The Mustangs can try it against Memphis while UConn hits Cincy next week.
- FUNNY MAN: Memphis coach Josh Pastner not only knows how to win games, but work a room. He opened a press conference congratulating the Tigers’ beat guy on the birth of his son and also informed the media his wife’s birthday gift this year was the two wins Memphis picked up last week.
- SHARP SHOOTER: Louisville’s Russ Smith is shooting 3-pointers (.613) better than anyone is from the field (Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell .597) in AAC play. Smith has made 19 of 31 attempts in seven games.
- HARD TIMES: The schedule makers didn’t UCF any favors with a stretch that started last week with SMU and at Cincinnati, but now shifts to Memphis and at Louisville. The Knights have dropped four straight.
- ANKLE WOES: The Bearcats and Huskies each had key players go down with sprained ankles over the weekend. Justin Jackson played only eight minutes against Temple due to his injury, while DeAndre Daniels left and returned in the second half against Rutgers despite suffering a high ankle sprain.
GAME OF THE WEEK AHEAD
Cincinnati at Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN) Thursday – AAC’s top defense visits the top offense in a perfect game to showcase the league’s best teams in prime time. The Bearcats hold a 1.5 game lead over Louisville for first place.