Let’s not understate this: this is a huge win for the Knights. Not only was it their first Big 12 road win, but it arguably showed that the way they played in their last two games against Kansas and BYU wasn’t a fluke. It shows that this team can compete in the conference this year, regardless if they’re on the road or at home.
It didn’t look this way at first though. The Knights trailed for more than 85% of this game. At one point they were down 16 points.
So how did they come away with one of the biggest road wins in program history? Let’s go over the key points.
Winning the Defensive Battles
The Knights and Longhorns’ offensive performances were balanced. Texas shot 50% while the Knights shot 51%. The Longhorns made 10 three-pointers while the Knights only made seven. However, this was canceled out by the Knights going 12-for-15 on free throws while the Longhorns went seven-for-12. With there was not a clear winner on offense, the only way to win this game was to win the defensive performance. And that’s exactly what the Knights did.
UCF won the rebounding battle 37 to 22. 15 of those rebounds came on offense, which helped the Knights core more second-chance points (15 to 5). It should also be noted the Knights had five blocks while the Longhorns only had one.
Two guys who deserve props are Ibrahima Diallo, who recorded three blocks including a huge one near the end of the game to keep it a multi-possession lead, and C.J. Walker, who grabbed nine rebounds.
Defense ultimately won the Knights this game, and that performance showed on the stat sheet.
Better Second Half
On KnightShift after the game, Eric Lopez said this game was eerily similar to the Kansas game. The Knights were at one point losing by 16 points, the Longhorns shot 68% in the first half, but the game was won because the Knights came out hot in the second half.
On the defensive side, the Knights cut the Longhorns’ shooting percentage in half, with them shooting 34.5%. They took a team that scored 44 in the first half and only gave up 27 in the second half.
As for the offensive side, the Knights went from shooting 48% to 53.1% and scored 45 second-half points, 13 more than they had in the first half.
To put things simply, the Knights were a different team in the second half and that not only allowed them to come back but to take the lead late, a lead they would never give up.
A Balanced Attack
One of the biggest reasons the Knights lost to BYU is that they only had six assists. In this game, they had 14. They also had 24 bench points and five players scored double-digit points.
Jaylin Sellers led the team in scoring with 24 while coming off the bench, and Shemarri Allen had 17 points and seven assists. C.J. Walker, Omar Payne, and Darius Johnson deserve a shoutout for their performances as well.
Unlike the BYU game where guys were forced into playing hero ball, the Knights had a balanced attack, which was the key to victory.
The Knights will be staying in Texas as they will have another familiar foe waiting for them in #5 Houston on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.