The UCF Knights spoiled Penny Hardaway’s first trip to Orlando as the head coach of the Memphis Tigers, with a 79-72 victory at CFE Arena. It was a game of runs, as UCF saw their 66-55 lead evaporate to 69-68 with 2:01 left, but some clutch shooting - particularly at the free throw line (!) - enabled the Knights to close the game out on a 10-2 run of their own.
The Knights advance to 19-5, 9-3 in The American, and more importantly, scored a critical NET Quadrant 2 win to help their case for the NCAA Tournament.
Three in the Key
What free throw problems?
UCF, who averaged 63% from the line as a team this year, hit 25/30 free throws for the game (83%), including 7/8 in the final 1:05 to close it out. B.J. Taylor was 12/14 at the line for the game, and even Tacko Fall, who shoots 34% for the year, was 5/7 at the stripe.
Fixing the Glass
Last time out against Memphis, UCF got out-rebounded 46-28. This time around, the Knights won the rebounding battle, 38-36. It’s a total coincidence, but both teams totaled the same exact number of rebounds from the first game - It’s just that UCF hauled down ten more boards than the last game.
Four Knights - B.J. Taylor, Aubrey Dawkins, Terrell Allen and Tacko Fall - scored in double figures for the second straight game. It’s also the fifth straight game with three or more Knights scoring in double figures, and the Knights are 4-1 in that streak. The last time fewer Knights scored at least ten was the previous game against Memphis, when B.J. Taylor was the only Knight in double-figures with just 10.
Who’s Got Next
The Knights next head to Cincinnati, who are #23 in the NET, which means this is a clear Quadrant 1 game for UCF. The Knights are 0-2 in Q1 opportunities this year, but this is one of four Q1 games they will have in the final six contests.