The UCF Knights went up to Cincinnati to face the first-place Bearcats as 10.5-point underdogs.
They came out 89-97 double-overtime winners thanks to one of the gutsiest performances in recent memory.
Our locker room was after that W! pic.twitter.com/5XZTP8CCmg— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) February 20, 2020
With Brandon Ingram back home sick in Orlando and Dre Fuller gone for the year, Tony Johnson Jr. had his breakout game, racking up 21 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals in 47 minutes, and Brandon Mahan added 20 points and 7 rebounds on 9/15 shooting.
It almost didn’t happen as Jarron Cumberland hit a desperation half-court shot that would have given Cincinnati a miracle win, but it came just after the horn and was disallowed.
Cincinnati ALMOST won this from half court at the buzzer pic.twitter.com/brPClib7L3— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 20, 2020
Three In The Key
Never give up. UCF had its largest lead at 61-52 with 6:32 left, but then the Bearcats outscored the Knights 18-9 to tie it.
They led 78-76 and had the ball with a minute to go in the first overtime, but ended up going to a second overtime.
They trailed 85-82 with 1:45 left and fought back again, outscoring Cincinnati 7-2 the rest of the way.
Wake up with the final moments from last night's double overtime thriller at Cincy ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ZwI8qEgf2O— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) February 20, 2020
The defense got stops when they needed them. The Knights got a key defensive stop at the end of regulation, one in the final minute of the first overtime, and three in the final minute of the second overtime. That’s how you win a big game on the road.
Whatever it takes. UCF got out-rebounded 46-37, out-blocked 8-1, and outscored in transition 28-17. Yet they made 22 of their 26 free throws (84.6% - Interestingly Cincinnati was also 22/26) and were +10 in the paint (46-36).
The Final Word
The win doesn’t do much for UCF in terms of the standings, as the Knights advanced to 14-11 and 5-8 in the league - good enough for 9th place out of 12. But that wasn’t the point.
Y'all see that stat on @UCF_MBB?— Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon) February 20, 2020
Knights returned just 19.7% of the scoring load from last year. We knew that.
I didn't know that was the *4th least out of 350 teams in Division I*.
People who are getting on Johnny Dawkins' case about this season need to just shut up. #UCF
The takeaway from a win like this is the confidence it gives this team when they needed it the most, right after their disastrous performance at home against Wichita State. Our own Brian Murphy said in his most recent column that the Knights needed a “Come to Jesus” moment.
After defeating Cincinnati in their place, they may have just gotten it.