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SMU beats Cincinnati 71-56 for AAC championship

Sterling Brown of the Southern Methodist Mustangs carries the ball against the UCF Knights at the XL Center on Satruday in Hartford. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

HARTFORD — Sterling Brown scored 18 points to help send No. 12 SMU streaking into the NCAA Tournament with a 71-56 victory over No. 15 Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Sunday.

Tournament MVP Simi Ojeleye added 14 points, Jarrey Foster had 13 and Ben Moore scored 12 for Mustangs (30-4), who won their 16th straight game and second AAC title in three years. The Mustangs took the championship in 2015, but missed last year’s postseason under NCAA sanctions.

Jarron Cumberland had 14 points to lead Cincinnati (29-5), which has not won a conference title since capturing the Conference USA crown in 2004.

SMU started the year 4-3, but has reeled off 26 wins in 27 games. They went 17-1 to win the league’s regular-season title, with the only loss coming by two points at Cincinnati in January.