Mick Cronin, Mike Aresco

American Athletic Conference announces 2014-15 conference schedule pairings

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The first season of play for the American Athletic Conference was a productive one on the basketball court, with UConn winning the national title and three players (Sean Kilpatrick, Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith) earning All-America honors. The question now is what will Mike Aresco’s league do for an encore, with two schools leaving (Louisville and Rutgers) the conference and three (East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa) arriving.

Wednesday afternoon the American’s basketball programs learned what their path to the conference title will be, with the American releasing its conference schedule pairings. Each team will play eight of its league foes twice, meeting the two leftover conference opponents once (one at home, one on the road).

“We are very pleased with the schedule format we have put together for the 2014-15 season,” Aresco said in the release. “We took into consideration rivalries, marquee match-ups and geographical and travel considerations.”

SEE: CBT’s American Athletic Conference Catchup

In this era of conference play unbalanced schedules have become commonplace, with the schedule potentially having a major impact on which team wins the regular season title. The American made sure with this year’s schedule release that UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis and SMU all play each other two times apiece, which is a good move with those programs expected to be the main contenders for the title.

And if those programs take care of business that should help their resumes from a strength of schedule standpoint, with the conference looking to ensure a solid number of bids (and quality seeds) in the NCAA tournament. Also of note is the fact that the conference tournament title game will move to Sunday (March 15), with this being announced when it was revealed that Hartford would host the 2015 event.

Below are the single meetings for each team on the 2014-15 conference schedule.

UCF: Tulsa (home), UConn (away)
Cincinnati: USF (home), Tulsa (away)
UConn: UCF (home), Houston (away)
East Carolina: Tulane (home), SMU (away)
Houston: UConn (home), Temple (away)
Memphis: Temple (home), USF (away)
USF: Memphis (home), Cincinnati (away)
SMU: East Carolina (home), Tulane (away)
Temple: Houston (home), Memphis (away)
Tulane: SMU (home), East Carolina (away)
Tulsa: Cincinnati (home), UCF (away)

VIDEO: Monmouth hits a game-winner, Bench Mob member tries to disrobe

King Rice
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Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.

The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.