Don't look now, but UCF Hoops is getting better by the game.
The Knights jumped out to a 14-5 lead out of the gates, and even though USF (3-13, 0-3 AAC) fought back to make it a competitive game for much of the evening, outstanding late free-throw shooting allowed UCF to pull away for a 75-64 victory over their rivals on the home floor. The Knights are now 8-5 overall, but off to a 2-0 start in The American.
Among the individual highlights were Adonys Henriquez, who hit for 20 points on 7/13 from the field with four threes, and A.J. Davis, who was only 3/9 from the field but a critical 10/10 at the line (8/8 in the second half). But the team's effort was impressive for its efficient ruthlessness down the stretch.
Three in the Key
1. On line at the line
UCF finished a clutch 9/10 at the line after the final TV timeout, with the only miss coming (strangely) from Matt Williams and his 92% season clip. The Knights hit 20 of their 25 foul shots on the evening, while USF was just 7/10.
2. Downtown closed for business
As a team, USF hit only three of their 18 three-point attempts on the evening. USF's leading scorer Jahmal came in as the only Bull averaging double-figures (13.6 PPG), but left CFE Arena just 4/13 from the floor, 2/9 from three-point range, and tallied just 10 points.
3. Hitting the gas pedal
The Knights' quick start was fueled by their own three-point shooting, as Matt WIlliams hit his first three bombs in the first six minutes. Henriquez added another three and a layup (and actually missed three shots in that time span) to push the Knights out to a 14-5 early lead, and put the Bulls on their heels. Williams finished with 13 points on 4/7 from the field (all from beyond the arc).
Knight of the Night
A.J. Davis. It was a lunch-pail game that his dad would be proud of: 16 points on only 3/9 shooting, but the 10/10 from the line was key, especially down the stretch. Add another five boards and five assists and Davis put together a solid all-around game despite his shooting troubles.
He also did this:
The Big Number
- UCF - 9/23
- USF - 3/18
Who's Got Next?
UCF heads to Dallas for a date with the 15th-ranked SMU Mustangs, who are 13-0 to start the year and 2-0 in The American.
The Mustangs are in a bit of disarray after junior guard Keith Frazier decided to leave the team this week. SMU is being a tad dodgy about it, saying Frazier is dealing with "personal issues" and is still "part of the SMU family." But Frazier is also at the center of the academic scandal that cost SMU its chance at the postseason this year, as well as a nine-game ban for Brown. Frazier was averaging 11.9 PPG and 4.4 RPG, only slightly up from his 10.5/4.0 clip from last season.
Tip is set for Sunday at 4 p.m., and you can catch the game on ESPNU.
Video and audio credit to UCF Athletics.