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UCF Misses Big Opportunity in Loss to Cincinnati

Valiant road effort shouldn’t hurt Knights in Tournament chase, but it really could’ve helped.

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t hurt that bad, but it really could have helped.

The UCF Knights came up short in a huge road test at #25 Cincinnati, 60-55 on Thursday night. It was UCF’s first huge test in its final six games, four of which are Quadrant 1 games in the NET. Despite holding a six-point lead with six and a half to go, the Knights could not get the stops and buckets they needed to in order to steal one from the Bearcats.

Highlights

Three In The Key

A Game of runs

Here’s how this game broke down:

  • First 4:00: UCF 11, Cincinnati 3
  • Next 16:00: Cincinnati 23, UCF 7
  • Next 8:00: UCF 22, Cincinnati 6
  • Final 12:00: Cincinnati 28, UCF 15

Adjustments beget adjustments, and it might not have been the prettiest of games, but these two teams played quite the chess match.

Physical teams are physical

Total fouls in this game were only 13 for Cincy and 11 for UCF, and the free throw situation was 11/2 for the Bearcats and 4/7 for the Knights. But it was obvious that the officials were going to let the teams play, even to the frustration of UCF:

Missed chances beget missed chances

Consider:

  • UCF held the conference’s leading scorer, Jarron Cumberland, to 3/13 from the floor.
  • UCF outshot Cincy 46.7% to 40.4%.
  • UCF hit two more threes (9) than the Bearcats did (7).
  • UCF beat Cincy in steals + blocks (9-7)
  • UCF shot 56.7% in the second half while holding the Bearcats to just 39.3%

And Cincinnati still won.

UCF didn’t really need this game to keep its at-large bid chances alive, but they did almost everything they needed to in the second half to hand the Bearcats what would have been their third home loss in their last 49 home games (!), and thus escape with an impressive win for their resume.

As it is, it’s a missed opportunity:

Who’s got next?

The Knights are back home for SMU Sunday at noon on CBS Sports Network in what our Brian Murphy is calling a must-win:

Must-win? Well, a loss would be devastating. So there’s that.