It’s been a tough for seven days for UCF Knights Men’s Basketball. In that time frame, they’ve endured a devastating loss to Temple on January 5th and Saturday’s Tulsa game suffered the second COVID postponement of the year. UCF found themselves in a difficult situation facing the Memphis Tigers who are were tied for 2nd place in the American Athletic Conference while also trying to find their identity.
While Memphis was apparently struggling at times with DeAndre Williams and Earl Timberlake out with injuries, the Knights played with aggression, which we saw during their early-season success. The Tigers gave up 19 turnovers as the Knights gave them fits throughout the night.
They came out with aggression on defense that Darius Perry called for after the loss to the Owls which had their squad up by as many as 19 points during the second half.
After the @UCF_MBB 74-64 win over @Memphis_MBB, @MbackeDiong spoke about how UCF found their identity to bounce back from their 2 game skid. #GKCO #MEMvUCF pic.twitter.com/dEvWxMAus5— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) January 13, 2022
Offensively, the scoring clinic Knight fans have come to know and love from Darin Green Jr. was once again present as he dropped 20. He was the top man on the scoreboard with three other players contributing double-digit points. CJ Walker put up 12 while turning in seven rebounds. The final two were the “Darius”s at point guard, Perry and Darius Johnson. While Perry had 11, Johnson scored a career-high of 12 with the pair combining for eight assists in the contest.
This coming-out party was not necessarily about Johnson’s scoring, but more about him showing poise that the team has seen in practice impact the outcome of a game as head coach Johnny Dawkins explains.
Saw @Coach_Dawkins smile as he talks about @_dariusj2 showing abilities in the 74-64 @UCF_MBB win where the freshman PG scored a career-high 12 points. #GKCO #MEMvsUCF pic.twitter.com/6ELeZoeY6B— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) January 13, 2022
With Johnson seeing succes as he did against the Tigers, this opens up other possibilities. For critics out there who believe that Perry is more of a scorer than a distributer, this give an opportunity for both players to shine on the floor simultaneouly. In situations where the Knights may need to put a game away and the opponent is beginning to play full court defense, this duo is a unique back court option along with Green. Not only would this trio have fire power jump shooting, but would increase the ability to break the press.
2 PGs in double digits scoring was an interesting touch in @UCF_MBB's win tonight. @Coach_Dawkins talked about what @dariusperry and @_dariusj2 bring when they are on the court together. #GKCO #MEMvsUCF pic.twitter.com/esN41aceep— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) January 13, 2022
On Saturday, UCF plays the first of two games against the USF Bulls. Their struggling in-state rivals should provide an opportunity for the Knights to build on their 2-2 conference record before battling the ECU Pirates in Greenville on Tuesday.