Hoping to break a three-game losing skid, UCF Knights Men’s Hoops hosted the Temple Owls for the last time as a conference opponent at Addition Financial arena. Unfortunately for Knight fans, their squad was hunted down by the Owls, 77-70 in overtime.
Lahat Thione vs. Jamil Reynolds: A Key Battle
Opening the game, UCF’s Lahat Thione got UCF off to a hot start scoring six quick points on his way to a season-high day putting up 13 on the scoreboard with four rebounds and four steals.
Thione tied Ithiel Horton to deliver a team-high mark in points. Horton’s six rebounds were the team’s second-highest behind Taylor Hendricks who had 11 with nine points for the day.
Lahat showing off the post moves!— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) January 28, 2023
He's netted a season-high 10 points! pic.twitter.com/bYkBG9ZJeo
Thione had opportunities to do more damage at, but Jamille Reynolds came off the bench as a force in the middle to battle him while putting up 16 points on the afternoon as the Owls’ second-highest scorer behind Khalif Battle who dropped 26. Reynolds is another former Knight who made a big impact in his homecoming to Addition Financial Arena wearing different colors. He delivered one point fewer than Darin Green’s 17 in his early season appearance with FSU.
Reynolds effort in the paint was part of a 19-3 run for Temple in the final five minutes of the the first half. That portion of the game was a big turning point where the Knights went from leading by 10 to down 36-29 at the half.
While Horton and Thione were large components for the Knights’ offense, it was Brandon Suggs and Darius Johnson and Brandon Suggs who were essential in UCF’s forcing overtime. Their effort in the second half took them both to the free throw line for big moments that helped regulation end in a 62-62 tie.
Suggs and Johnson both finished with 12 points each, but combined for 11 points from the charity stripe who the Knights went 18-of-25. Three of the most important shots in regulation came after Johnson missed the first of two free throws with two seconds leftwith UCF down 62-60. He missed the second shot, grabbed his own rebound, and was fouled again with a single second remaining on the clock.
DJ made it happen! pic.twitter.com/0bNQ9BEC4O— UCF Men’s Hoops (@UCF_MBB) January 28, 2023
While sinking the ensuing free throws ultimately failed to render a victory, it was a colossal effort to battle back against the Owls.
The Charge Continues On. . .
With the Knight's next home game two weeks away, they have a pair of contests on the road with the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Wichita State Shockers on February 4th and 8th.
While coach Dawkins and Horton both said after the game that they would prefer to immediately return to action and right the ship, the upcoming week off will be used to bring together what Dawkins referred to as a team that was “disjointed” at times. Players participating in changing roles that have come to pass from injuries including Michael Durr and CJ Walker will have time now in practice to get more comfortable. UCF fans all over that this will be enough to break their losing streek.