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College basketball: Houston clinches AAC regular-season title by beating Cincinnati

Corey Davis Jr., Rashawn Fredericks
Houston’s Corey Davis Jr. drives past Cincinnati’s Rashawn Fredericks during the first half Sunday.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Galen Robinson Jr. raised his arms at midcourt as the buzzer sounded and red-clad Cincinnati fans headed glumly for the exits. No. 12 Houston has just drubbed the American Athletic Conference’s defending champion, leaving no doubt about who’s best this time around.

It’s the Cougars, and it’s not even close.

Corey Davis Jr. scored a career-high 31 points Sunday, and visiting Houston dominated the second half for an 85-69 victory over No. 20 Cincinnati that clinched the AAC’s regular-season title outright.

The Cougars (29-2, 16-2) knocked off the defending champs and earned their first league title since 1992 in the Southwest Conference. Coach Kelvin Sampson got a celebratory dousing from his players afterward.

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“At no point in time this year did I think we were a great team, but I thought we were a pretty good team and it showed on the road,” said Sampson, who had a white towel draped over the back of his soaked blue shirt.

Down by six early in the second half, Nate Hinton hit back-to-back 3s that started a 35-12 spurt. Davis’ back-to-back 3s put the Cougars up by 17 points and sent Cincinnati fans headed home with 4:22 to go.

“Corey Davis is the best two-way player in this league, plays both ends with the same voracity,” Sampson said. “Corey’s been consistently good. He never had a bad practice, never had a bad game.”

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Hinton added 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds as Houston scored at least 85 points for the fourth time in the past six games.

Last year, the Bearcats (25-6, 14-4) won the regular-season title and the AAC Tournament, beating Houston in the title game. This time, the Cougars swept the season series, winning in Cincinnati for the first time after 16 losses.

SCORES SUNDAY

East

Penn St. 72, Illinois 56

Midwest

Houston 85, Cincinnati 69

Indiana 89, Rutgers 73

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Tournaments

Big South Conference

Championship

Gardner-Webb 76, Radford 65

Colonial Athletic Association

Quarterfinals

Hofstra 76, James Madison 67

Patriot League

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Semifinals

Colgate 80, Navy 70


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