FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kendric Davis scored 31 points, including 14 in a big run before halftime, and Memphis held on to beat short-handed No. 1 Houston 75-65 in the American Athletic Conference tournament championship game Sunday.
DeAndre Williams had 16 points and 13 rebounds for coach Penny Hardaway and the Tigers (26-8), who got the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid. They are going to March Madness for the second year in a row.
Houston (31-3) played without AAC Player of the Year Marcus Sasser, who strained his groin in the first half of Saturday's semifinal game. The senior guard's status will remain a question mark for the Cougars, who entered their final AAC game already a sure bet for their first No. 1 NCAA seed since 1983 during the Phi Slama Jama era.
The Cougars, who are moving to the Big 12 next season, beat Memphis 71-53 in last year's AAC tournament championship game and won both regular-season matchups this season.
The Cougars trailed by 18 at halftime but got within 55-50 with 11:03 left after Shead scored eight points in a row for them in a two-minute span. His 3-pointer capped a 12-1 run, and he made another long-range shot before two free throws, but that was the closest Houston would get.
Memphis had taken control with a 16-2 run in the first half. Davis had all but two of those points and made two 3-pointers only 9 seconds apart.
That big spurt started on a fast-break layup by Davis with just under eight minutes left. Davis made a 3, then Alex Lomax made a backcourt steal and passed to Davis at the top of the key for another 3. By the time Davis made another fast-break layup with 3:36 left, the Tigers had doubled up Houston, 40-20.