Jarron Cumberland proved more than worthy of being named the American Athletic Conference MVP, scoring 33 points to lead No. 24 Cincinnati to a 69-57 upset victory over No. 11 Houston in the conference championship game Sunday at Memphis.
Cumberland scored 15 of Cincinnati's first 17 points of the second half, finishing 11-for-24 from the floor and 10-for-13 from the free throw line. His 33 points were an AAC title game record. He also pulled down eight rebounds.
The second-seeded Bearcats (28-6) notched their second consecutive AAC tournament title, defeating Houston both times.
The top-seeded Cougars (31-3) were unable to defeat Cincinnati for the third time this season.
Cumberland's jumper with 6:57 left gave the Bearcats their largest lead 55-40 and they held the lead the rest of the way.
Cincinnati held Houston star Corey Davis Jr. to just 12 points on 3 of 13 shooting, including 2 of 10 from 3-poing range. Cincinnati routinely doubled Davis at the point, harassing Houston's leading scorer.
Armoni Brooks led Houston with 17 points. The Cougars shot just 30.6 percent from the floor.
Cane Broome added 15 for Cincinnati and Tre Scott had 12.
Cumberland scored 13 points in the game's first 6 1/2 minutes to help give the Bearcats a 33-30 lead at halftime. Cincinnati never trailed in the first 20 minutes.
Cumberland went on a personal 8-0 run to give Cincinnati an 18-12 lead with 11:35 before the break. The Bearcats extended that lead to seven with 2:22 remaining.
Cincinnati led 31-25 with 1:22 left when Broome was called for a flagrant 1 foul on an elbow to the jaw of Galen Robinson. Robinson hit both free throws and nailed a 3-pointer on Houston's ensuing possession to cut the lead to 31-30.
It was the second flagrant 1 of the half. Houston's Breaon Brady was hit with one 34 seconds into the game.
Scott had eight points for Cincinnati in the opening half. Cumberland finished the half 4-for-10 and didn't score in the final 11:37 before the break.
--Field Level Media