CINCINNATI (AP) — Jarron Cumberland overcame a sluggish first half and scored 26 points, leading No. 23 Cincinnati to a 71-69 victory over Memphis on Saturday night that moved the Bearcats into a tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference.
The Bearcats (25-4, 14-2) are tied with Houston atop the league. They finish the regular season by facing each other in Cincinnati next Sunday.
The edgy game included three players getting technical fouls and another ejected. Jeremiah Martin led the Tigers (18-12, 10-7) with 28 points, keeping them in it until the final seconds.
Martin hit a 3-pointer and made a layup that cut it to 70-69 with 6.8 seconds left. Cincinnati’s Trevon Scott hit a free throw with 4.9 seconds to go, and Logan Johnson stole a pass intended for Martin to clinch it.
Cumberland and Antwann Jones got technical fouls with 7:38 left for an exchange under the basket. Cincinnati point guard Justin Jenifer was ejected for coming off the bench.
Also, Memphis’ Raynere Thornton tripped Cumberland as he dribbled, and then stepped over him, drawing a technical foul with 4:24 left.
Martin was hit on the left side of the face in a collision under the basket in the opening minutes and rubbed his jaw. He was examined during a timeout. Martin came in leading the league with 19.4 points per game and missed six of his nine shots in the first half, when Cincinnati led by as many as 10 points.
Cumberland had 21 points in the second half.
Cincinnati needed a win to stay ranked for another week, and the Bearcats got it by holding down the league’s highest-scoring offense and getting an edge the boards 38-31.
Memphis: The Tigers suffered a major setback in their bid to get a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are in better position to win a second straight AAC regular season title after first-place Houston lost to UCF 69-64 at home on Saturday . The Bearcats also won the conference tournament last season.
Memphis finishes its regular season at home against Tulsa next Saturday. The Tigers lost at Tulsa 95-79 on Jan. 30.
Cincinnati plays at UCF on Thursday. The Bearcats beat the UCF 60-55 on Feb. 21.
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