UCF Knights Men’s Basketball had won three of their last four heading into their final home game of the season. Hosting a fellow future-Big 12 program in the Cincinnati Bearcats for Senior Knight in Addition Financial Arena, Knights players young and old handled business in dominant fashion in the 75-61 victory.
The steal…the dunk…— UCF Knights (@UCFKnights) February 24, 2022
Without a doubt your @VioletDefense Defensive Play of the Game pic.twitter.com/4xCUBVfuEB
UCF Ran on Dunking
Out of the gate, Cincinnati was defending the perimeter hard in hopes of stopping guards Darius Perry and Darin Green, Jr. After Perry scored the first six points for the Knights during his 11-point performance, center Mbacke Diong threw down the first of six dunks by UCF in the opening half.
With the Knights establishing a presence in the paint, the Bearcats' effort to adjust left Green to chuck it from the cheap seats. As the Cincinnati defense scrambled to find their footing, forwards CJ Walker and Tyem Freeman as well as backup center Jamille Reynolds had the ball spread to them to apply jams to the rim.
BIG MILLY with the board and the SLAM @jamillerey4 pic.twitter.com/kXUSNwjSjL— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) February 24, 2022
Combine this with forcing the Bearcats into 11 turnovers compared to three by the Knights thanks to their defensive effort and that equals a UCF lead of 38-25 at the half.
Adams has a Strong Eve
With guard Brandon Mahan in a walking boot for his senior night, the Knights were looking for someone to fill the gap. After struggling throughout the season, forward Isaiah Adams had his best performance since December 11, 2021 at home against North Carolina A&T. In 15 minutes of action, Adams was 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc for 12 points with two assists, a block, and a steal.
After Isaiah Adams awesome night in the 75-61 win over the #Bearcats, @UCF_MBB’s @Coach_Dawkins comments how he and the team may be peaking at the right time. #GKCO #UCF #AAC #Big12 pic.twitter.com/P5T8E1h7Ew— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 24, 2022
While it may have been senior night, Walker as a junior was the top scorer with 13 on the evening. He was one of four players to hit double figures along with Adams (12), Perry (11), and Diong (11).
Also worth note the Knight defense did their part. They allowed only two Bearcats to finish with double digits scoring in guard David DeJulius who had 16 and Jeremiah Townsend who had 15.
Peaking for the Postseason
Head coach Johnny Dawkins mentioned after the game that this may have been the Knights’ most complete performance of the season. That being said, he also mentioned that there’s still room for improvement. His players also seem to acknowledge that the season is far from over.
Despite the dominant 75-61 #SeniorKnight win over the #Bearcats, @UCF_MBB players @MbackeDiong, @dariusperry and @LevyRenaud all acknowledge there’s still more work to be done. #GKCO #UCF #AAC #BIG12 pic.twitter.com/nZwzBCrkYf— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) February 24, 2022
The Knights have eight days before they face Tulane in New Orleans for an 8:00 pm EST tip-off. After that, they head on the road again to face the Tulsa curse that seems to require UCF to struggle on the road in Oklahoma. That being said, there is optimism that this squad is playing for postseason potential.