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AAC Tournament | Huskies vs Bearcats

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AAC Tournament | Huskies vs Bearcats

By Don Phillips

 Connecticut Huskies vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

2:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016

Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

The UConn men’s basketball team, seeded No. 5, begins play in the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. with a quarterfinal game against No. 4-seed Cincinnati. The game is scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.

The Huskies (21-10 overall, 11-7 American), coming off a 67-46 victory against UCF Sunday at Gampel Pavilion, are led by four double-figure scorers — grad student forward Shonn Miller (12.6), junior guard Rodney Purvis (12.6), grad student guard Sterling Gibbs (12.0) and sophomore swingman Daniel Hamilton (11.6). Hamilton is also the team leader in rebounding (8.7) and assists (4.8).

Cincinnati (22-9, 12-6) is coming off a 61-54 win over SMU Sunday. Guard Troy Caupain leads the Bearcats in scoring (12.4) and assists (4.8) while forward Gary Clark is tops in rebounding (8.9). Cincinnati defeated UConn twice during the regular season, 58-57 in Hartford (1/28), and 65-60 in Cincinnati (2/20).

UConn enters the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship after compiling a 41-28 all-time mark in 33 years of conference tournament competition in the Big East Conference and two years in the American Athletic Conference. UConn won the Big East Tournament Championship a record (with Georgetown) seven times — 1990, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2011.

The Huskies have been tourney runner-ups five times — in 1995, 2000 and 2003 in the Big East and in both 2014 and 2015 in the American. UConn was the only team in Big East history to win both the regular season and tournament titles in consecutive seasons (1997-98 and 1998-99). The Huskies have a conference tournament record of 29-10 when seeded better than their opponent, 11-17 when seeded worse and 1-1 with an equal seeds as their tournament opponent (when the Big East had two divisions).

This will be the first time that UConn has been the No. 5 seed in the American Athletic Conference Championship. Amazingly, in 33 years of conference tournament competition in the Big East Conference, UConn was only a No. 5 seed once — bowing to Villanova, 65-54, in the first round of the 1981 Big East tourney at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., in just the second season of the league.

In the NCAA Tournament, UConn has been a No. 5 seed three times and posted a 3-3 record. UConn lost to Syracuse in the first round in the 1979 tourney in Providence; the Huskies went 1-1 in the 2000 tourney, topping Utah State, but losing to Tennessee, both in Birmingham, Ala. UConn went 2-1 in the 2003 NCAA tourney, defeating BYU and Stanford in the first two rounds in Spokane, Wash., before bowing to Texas in the Sweet 16 in San Antonio.

UConn’s field goal percentage defense of 38.3 percent is ranked among the top five in the country. UConn has held 21 opposing teams to a field goal percentage of under 40.0 percent, including 13 of its last 18 games. To find a UConn team that had a better field goal percentage defense, you would have to go back to the 2008-09 Huskies, who held opponents to 37.7 percent for the season.

Conn’s scoring defense of 62.27 points per game is ranked among the top 10 in the nation. In American Athletic Conference play, UConn is holding opponents to 38.4 percent overall, which leads the AAC.

Selection: Connecticut