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

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 the 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 three from Jenifer with 2 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, Jr. 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.

--Field Level Media

03/16/2019 0:29

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