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Knights fumble game away in epic collapse to Tulane

Not good.

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

Heads are shaking and jaws are on the floor after the UCF Knights fell at home to the Tulane Green Wave 75-74 Saturday afternoon.

With 17 seconds to go, Collin Smith landed a putback to put the Knights ahead 74-70 as Tulane called their final timeout.

After a quick deuce from Teshaun Hightower, the lead was cut in half to two. The Knights’ inbound from Caesar DeJesus landed in the wrong hands.

Tulane’s steal set up Nic Thomas to seal the game-winning free throws and stun the Knights.

In a one-point loss, you always find small plays of regret.

“I think they just made a few more plays at the end than we did,” coach Johnny Dawkins said.

The five-point swing to end the game was the second one of the half.

Tulane connected on a three with 1:23 to go followed with a steal and layup to cut the Green Wave’s deficit from seven to five.

“We just didn’t go out there and play a full 40 minutes,” junior forward Collin Smith said.

Smith posted a team-high 16 points and 13 boards for another double-double. He also played the final eight minutes of the game with four fouls and contributed in foul trouble.

Smith also had two SportsCenter-worthy plays.

One was perhaps the assist of the year for the Knights...

And the other was perhaps the block of the year.

Tony Johnson Jr. logged his first career start this afternoon with some success. The freshman guard scored 15 points and four assists.

It’s a shame to see a good performance overshadowed by an absolutely poor final three minutes, especially after the Knights’ win of the year earlier this week against Cincinnati.

This was a humble trip back to reality and showed that the Knights are not on that level just yet. There are promising pieces but the pieces need to grow and learn.

“I take everything as a learning experience,” freshman Tony Johnson said.

The Knights now have just four more conference games left, with the next one coming Wednesday night against the UConn Huskies. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.