In the American Athletic Conference tournament championship game on Sunday, Memphis held on to defeat short-handed No. 1 Houston 75-65 thanks to 31 points from Kendric Davis, 14 of which came in a big run before the halftime break.
DeAndre Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds for coach Penny Hardaway and the Tigers (26-8), who got the league’s automatic NCAA competition bid. For the second year in a row, they are going to March Madness.
Because Marcus Sasser, the AAC Player of the Year, injured his groin during the first half of Saturday’s semifinal game, Houston (31-3) did not play. The Cougars, who went into their final AAC game expecting to earn their first No. 1 NCAA seed since 1983 during the Phi Slama Jama era, will continue to be uncertain about the status of the senior guard.
The Cougars, who will play in the Big 12 next season, defeated Memphis 71-53 in the AAC tournament championship game last year and won both regular-season games this season.
Houston’s J’Wan Roberts scored 12 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. Jarace Walker scored 13 points before fouling out, and Jamal Shead scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
At halftime, the Cougars were 18 points behind, but Shead scored eight points in a row for them in two minutes, bringing them within 55-50 with 11:03 left. He made a 3-pointer to end a 12-1 run, and before making two free throws, he made another long-range shot. However, that was the closest Houston would get.
After going on a 16-2 run in the first half, Memphis had taken control. Davis made two 3-pointers within nine seconds of each other, scoring all but two of those points.
Davis scored a fast break layup with just under eight minutes left to kick off that big run. Alex Lomax made a backcourt steal and passed Davis to the top of the key for another 3 after Davis made a 3. The Tigers had doubled Houston’s lead to 40-20 by the time Davis made a fast-break layup with 3:36 left.