The UCF Knights’ five-game win streak came to an end in Dallas on Sunday, as SMU star point guard Kendric Davis scored 17 of his 20 points in the 2nd half to lead the Mustangs to a 72-60 win.
The Knights dropped to 9-3 and 1-1 in The American while SMU extends thier win streak to eight (11-3). Davis showed why he was a Preseason AAC Player of the Year pick with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, with most coming in the 2nd half.
Here are three points that were the difference in the game:
1. No ball movement on offense.
“That’s not who we have been; that’s not who we will be.”
That’s what Head Coach Johnny Dawkins said about the Knights’ season-low five assists. The previous season low was nine at Auburn, which was UCF’s last loss.
The Knights’ offense had no flow for the entire game, shooting 37% from the field as a result of the lack of ball movement, the 2nd-lowest shooting performance of the season behind their 35% performance at Auburn.
In contrast, UCF had 20 assists in the win over Michigan on Thursday. Darius Perry led the Knights with seven assists in that win. On Sunday, Perry had one assist. The Knights were -17 when Perry was on the court and -13 when Darius Johnson was on the court. In comparison, Johnson and Perry were a combined +14 on Thursday vs. Michigan.
2. UCF needs Mbacke Diong on the court.
Diong picked up two quick fouls and a technical with 15:46 left in the 2nd half with the game tied at 33, and had to sit for the next six minutes with four fouls.
Diong was the best player in the game on both sides of the court, scoring 12 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in just 24 minutes. When Diong was on the court, UCF was even with SMU.
But in the 16 minutes Diong was not on the court, UCF was -12. Dawkins even mentioned how Diong not being on the court for much of the 2nd half hurt the team.
The only other Knight who had a positive +/- while on the court was Isaiah Adams, who was a +2 in his 13 minutes. UCF was + 14 when Diong was on the court on Thursday against Michigan.
3. SMU had better bench production
The Mustangs outscored the Knights 35-10 off the bench, led by Michael Weathers, who scored a season high 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting. Weathers was the difference for the Mustangs, especially in the first half, when Kendric Davis had a slow start. For the season, Michael Weathers had been averaging just 8 points per game.
Also off the bench, Marcus Weathers nearly had a double-double with 10 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes.
UCF now returns home where they are scheduled to host Temple on Wednesday night with tip-off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.