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UCF Men’s Basketball Gets Payback on Bulls, 68-49

Avenging a crushing loss in Tampa, the Knights split the season series with a home win

Darin Green, Jr. sets up on defense after hitting a 3-point bucket.
Photo: Noah Goldberg

It may sound weird, but while UCF Knights Men’s Basketball (14-7) lost in their last outing to the #7 Houston Cougars, it seems they gained confidence from the moments of excellence they did execute that night. That silver lining may have provided the lift in spirit that the Knights needed to stop the USF Bulls (6-14), 68-49.

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The Knights started point guards Darius Johnson and Darius Perry along with guard Darin Green Jr. in the backcourt. With Brandon Mahan struggling to find a spark this season, head coach Johnny Dawkins tried bringing him off the bench for the War On I-4.

It was Mahan who hit his first shot of the game and the team’s first three-pointer that started an 11-2 to vault UCF to a 36-24 halftime lead. Green had 14 points in that time and finished with 23 on the night as well as five rebounds, an assist, and two steals.

While Green was the lead scorer, what’s most important is that UCF’s three veteran guards each had a solid performance in the same game. Perry also dropped 20 points along with six boards, five assists, a block, and a steal. In addition, Mahan contributed eight points on the night only missing one field goal in the game. His evening may have been ended early when head Coach Johnny Dawkins sat him down after a was slapped with a technical foul with 6:43 left in the contest.

But it can be said that UCF finally got the game where those three stars had a solid night altogether.

Turnovers and Troubles

While in the past few games, the Knights have done well in protecting the rock — they had only 13 turnovers against Houston — this evening, the squad was a bit more sloppy with the basketball. They completed the night with 19 turnovers. To make matter worse, they hit a 3:00 stretch late in the game where they couldn’t put up any points.

That being said, center Mbacke Diong and the rest of the UCF frontcourt did their part to compensate by dominating on the glass. With help from seven rebounds by Diong, UCF out-rebounded center Russel Tchewa and crew, 42-32. Tchewa led the scoring for the Bulls with 11.

Charging Down the Road Ahead . . .

With Knight fans having secured a healthy helping of “horns down”, the squad heads on the road for a chance to sweep head coach Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. Coach Dawkins spoke about the Knights’ chance to sweep Memphis after the game:

A win there could bring momentum to UCF as they head back home for the opportunity to split the series with the Wichita State Shockers. That Tuesday night contest at Additional Financial Arena is scheduled for a late tipoff at 9 pm ET.