After a respectable showing against the then 13th-ranked Miami Hurricanes on the road, UCF Knights Men’s Basketball hosted the Titans of Cal State Fullerton at Addition Financial Arena for Military Appreciation Night. Knight Nation can celebrate a return to a winning record at 2-1 as they took down the Titans 72-44.
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After UCF opened the contest with a layup from forward Omar Payne, Fullerton went on a 7-point run. The Titans went on to miss 19 shots in the first half as defense prevailed. The Knights were crashing the boards to out-rebound the Titans 19-18 with forward Ibrahima Diallo grabbing four boards in that time with three blocks as well.
Diallo finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and five blocks
This was a big part of the 13-3 UCF run leading into the break that led to the 31-18 halftime score. Jaylin Sellers poured in 10 points in the first 20 minutes, but the highlight was Marchelus Avery’s first basket as a Knight. A colossal dunk that marked the moment when his squad began to pull away.
Avery finished with nine points, four rebounds, and a block while Sellers cashed in for 15 points and five assists.
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UCF Head Coach Johnny Dawkins often preaches defense as part of his overall philosophy, but it’s not every game where the Knights have eight blocks as a team. That’s only where the defensive accolades begin for the Knights.
The Titans turned the ball over 15 times while shooting 23.5% from the floor. A lot of that was the Knights as a unit flowing well on defense despite solid ball movement around the arc from Fullerton. The way UCF was rotating to minimize good looks at the basket was the key to Cal State’s struggles.
Next up — The Jacksonville Classic
Dawkins said after the game that the best thing they could do after the win on Thursday night, beyond the 9-of-18 free throw shooting performance, was remain consistent with that effort.
After the 72-44 win over Cal State #Fullerton, @UCF_MBB head coach Johnny Dawkins talks about what he’d like to see from the team heading into the Jacksonville Classic. #GKCO #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/AvClUGbPx5— Black & Gold Banneret (@UCFBanneret_SBN) November 17, 2023
On Sunday at 8:00 pm EST, the Knights head back on the road to Jacksonville, Florida where they will face South Dakota State. Depending on the game’s outcome, UCF will face either Charlotte or George Mason on Monday.
The Knights then return on November 26th to Addition Financial Arena to face an in-state school in the Stetson Hatters