A slow start turned into a win for UCF as they defeated Rider in their season opener at CFE Arena. The Broncs, coming off of a 22-9 season that ended with an NIT appearance, took an early 14-7 lead. UCF would make a run, taking a nine-point lead into the half and they never looked back. Rider returned most of their roster from last season and is unanimously projected to win their conference and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. This was a solid win to start the 2018-2019 campaign.
Three in the Key
1. Get Big
In my season preview, I had said that 6’11” center Collin Smith would be a nice backup to Tacko Fall this season. As it turns out, Johnny Dawkins likes having them both on the court at the same time. Having them both on the court made it almost impossible for Rider to score down low.
2. Struggles at the Charity Stripe
UCF shot just 55.6% from the free throw line in their season opener. The Knights were 343rd in the country in free throw percentage last season and that’s an area they must improve on if they want to compete for a championship this season.
3. Block Party
Tacko Fall continued to impact the game with his 7’6” frame, blocking 5 shots on the night. What the stat sheet wont show you is how many shots he altered from players trying to drop in the shot over top of the senior center. In total, the Knights had 10 blocked shots on the night.
Knight of the Night
B.J. Taylor. He led UCF with 22 points in 33 minutes on the court. Don’t be surprised to see Taylor earn this honor frequently this season as the senior guard is the catalyst for UCF’s offensive production.
The Big Number
Aubrey Dawkins: 16 Points, 10 Rebounds. In his long awaited UCF debut, Dawkins came away with a double-double. The last time the senior guard played a game was in the 2015-2016 NCAA Tournament for Michigan. He’ll be a big part of UCF’s success this season as long as he’s on the court.
Who’s Got Next?
UCF welcomes FAU to CFE Arena Sunday, November 11th at 3 p.m. The game will be on ESPN3.