No. 22 Cincinnati seeks 6th straight at Houston (Jan 6, 2017)

Two of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference will clash for the first time this season when No. 22 Cincinnati visits Houston on Saturday night at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston.

Cincinnati (12-2, 2-0 AAC) has won five in a row and 10 of its last 11. Both of the Bearcats’ losses have come against ranked opponents. They suffered a 76-71 loss to then-No. 21 Rhode Island on Nov. 19 and a 75-65 loss to then-No. 16 Butler.

Houston (12-3, 3-0) has won three in a row and six of seven. The Cougars lost non-conference games against LSU, Arkansas and Harvard.

Cincinnati is coming off a 92-56 victory over Tulane. The Bearcats shot a scorching 56.9 percent from the field and made 13 of 24 from 3-point range while holding the Green Wave to 27.4-percent shooting and 3-of-21 shooting from beyond the arc.

Jarron Cumberland came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points for Cincinnati. Kevin Johnson scored 15 points and Jacob Evans added 13.

Cumberland, a freshman, is averaging just 6.8 points per game, but this was not the first time he had the hot hand for the Bearcats. Cumberland scored 17 points against Lipscomb on Nov. 26 and 18 points against Texas Southern on Dec. 13.

“I know what Coach is expecting out of me,” Cumberland said. “He knows what I can do. The numbers that I put up tonight, I can do that almost every game. It’s just building my confidence. I can’t be scared when I get in the game or anything.”

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin liked what he saw from Cumberland, who recorded the fifth double-figure scoring game of his young career.

“I think he’s gonna have a lot more in his career,” Cronin said after the Tulane win. “I knew he was ready to play. I could see it in practice. He’s starting to be comfortable with who he is on this team and that his teammates want him to be a big part of the team.”

Houston is coming off a hard-fought 64-61 victory over Tulsa. The game featured 14 ties and eight lead changes.

Damyean Dotson scored 18 points for the Cougars. Wes Van Beck, starting in place of leading scorer Rob Gray Jr., who was battling the flu, had a career-high 16 points. Galen Robinson Jr. made the go-ahead free throw and blocked a 3-pointer that would have tied the game in the final seconds.

Houston found a way to win despite shooting 36.4 percent from the field and making just 5 of 18 from 3-point range.

“I’m proud of the win,” Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Winning is not a beauty contest. There are some people that evaluate these things, and those are the same people who saw Miss America walk across the stage and find a bunion on her foot. I do not look at that. I am just proud of the win.”