WFU will be making their 23rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their first since reaching the second round of the 2010 event.
The Bearcats advanced to the American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship but fell to rival SMU. Sterling Brown led the effort for SMU by scoring 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Tournament MVP Simi Ojeleye added 14 points, Jarrey Foster had 13 and Ben Moore scored 12. The Mustangs took the championship in 2015, but missed last year's postseason under NCAA sanctions.
"Our chemistry is as high as any team in the county", Ojeleye said. "We just go out there and do what we do".
It's the fourth consecutive appearance for the Musketeers and 11 in 12 years. Troy Caupain, victor of the American's Sportsmanship Award, and Kyle Washington were Second-Team All-American Athletic Conference selections and freshman Jarron Cumberland was tabbed as the American's Sixth Man of the Year and a member of the league's all-rookie team.
SMU started the year 4-3, but has reeled off 26 wins in 27 games. UConn (16-17, 9-10 AAC) suffered the brunt of the awful officiating, as Cincinnati took 46 free throws, to the Huskies' 25, but it was bad on both sides. Houston hit 41.3 percent of its shots and was 6 for 19 on 3-pointers. The Mustangs opened the game on an 11-2 run and never let up.
The Mustangs led 32-23 after Ben Emelogu beat the halftime buzzer with a 30-foot shot.
"From that, there was no looking back", said Brown.
SMU led the Bearcats wire to wire, minus a 37 second stretch in the opening minutes when the score was tied at two. Clark leads in rebounds with 7.8 while Caupain tops in assists with 4.6 per game. They've won 16 straight games and Sunday's win might have been their best in the conference tournament.
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But coach Tim Jankovich said he's not about to whine. "They were just a better team today". "It's like preseason rankings".
Jankovich said he was happy because the team will be playing on Friday and that will mean an extra day of rest after playing in a late conference final.
Wisconsin: The Badgers thought they had recovered from a run of five losses in six games, but this dud of a performance might change that perspective and force them to make adjustments before heading into the NCAA Tournament. If SMU wins, it will play Baylor in the next round. I think it's pretty obvious that nobody was really impressed with that. Head Coach Bruce Weber will be leading his Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament for the third time in his five seasons in Manhattan.
"We just had to take our time to get our rhythm", he said.
The 34 games played so far were just a prelude.
Cincinnati, the tournament's No. 2 seed, last won a conference tournament in 2004 (Conference USA).
Cincinnati plays Friday against either Kansas State or Wake Forest in Sacramento, Calif.