March 16, 2019 / 1:16 AM / 5 months ago

Cumberland, Scott lead No. 24 Cincinnati past SMU, into AAC semis

EditorsNote: 2nd update, changing a ‘the’ to a ‘to’ in 6th graf; several other smaller changes

Jarron Cumberland poured in 26 points, and Tre Scott added 17 points and 12 rebounds as No. 24 Cincinnati came from behind to beat short-handed SMU 82-74 on Friday in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals in Memphis.

The Bearcats (26-6), the second-seeded team in this tournament, will play sixth-seeded Wichita State, an 80-74 winner over Temple on Friday, in the semis Saturday afternoon.

SMU, the 10th seed here, ends its season at 15-17.

The game was tied at 66 after SMU’s Feron Hunt rolled across the lane for a layup with 4:52 to play. After a three-point play by Cumberland with 3:45 remaining, the Mustangs responded with a layup from Isiaha Mike to pull back to within 70-68 with 2:40 remaining.

But the final two and a half minutes belonged to the Bearcats. Cumberland added another three-point play and then added a free throw with 1:11 left to push the Cincinnati lead to 76-68, more than enough to carry the Bearcats to the finish line.

Justin Jenifer added 17 points for the Bearcats on a perfect 6 for 6 showing from the floor that included hitting all five of his 3-point attempts.

Jimmy Whitt Jr. led SMU with 24 points, while Jahmal McMurray hit for 18 for the Mustangs.

Like the other two games played between the teams this season — both won by the Bearcats by an average of four points — this one was close throughout, with seven ties and five lead changes.

SMU led by as many as eight points in the first half, at 29-21, on 3-pointer by McMurray with 7:32 to play in the half. The Mustangs stayed on top until a 3-pointer by Jenifer tied the game at 37 with 38 seconds remaining in the half.

Cincinnati then moved to the lead, its first since the opening minutes, on another 3-pointer from Jenifer with two seconds to play, allowing the Bearcats to head to the break up 40-38.

Jenifer led all scorers with 14 points in the half while Whitt paced the Mustangs with 10 points.

The Bearcats took charge early in the second half, using a 12-5 run capped by a putback layup by Scott, to forge a 52-43 lead with 15:53 remaining. A 3-pointer by Cumberland at the 13:54 mark allowed Cincinnati a 57-48 advantage before the Mustangs rallied, scoring the ensuing eight points to claw back to within 57-56 with 11:42 to play.

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