After their last loss to #5 Houston, it is fair to say the UCF Knights men’s basketball team needed a win. Against West Virginia Tuesday night, they didn’t just win — They dominated.
The Knights returned to Addition Financial Arena and, in front of another rowdy crowd of 8,882 people, defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 72-59. The Knights never trailed once in this game.
But how did a team that in the previous game had the worst shooting percentage in Big 12 history earn such a dominating win? Let’s go over the key points:
A Well-Rounded Offensive Attack
This wasn’t the greatest offensive performance. The Knights made 37.3% of their shots. They went through several scoreless periods that allowed the Mountaineers to stay in the game, including a 3:37 one at the end of their first half. I call this game a blowout, but the truth is they probably should have won by more. Still, they did what they needed to do on offense.
The Knights had three players score double-digits points, and it was close to being four with Thierno Sylla scoring nine points. 25 of their points came from the bench. They had more fast break points (24), second-chance points (13) and points scored off of turnovers (18) than the Mountaineers (six, seven, and five respectively).
Jaylin Sellers had another great offensive performance, scoring 18 points off of 5/11 shooting, but Ibrahima Diallo and Antwann Jones also shined, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively.
After the game, Sellers credited the team’s performance on offense to them doing the simple things.
“Not making it too complicated,” Sellers said. “Get on the ball, get off of it. Taking wide-open shots. and also shooting the ball with confidence.”
This was where the Knights truly dominated, suffocating the Mountaineers all night.
The Mountaineers went 21/58 from the field. The Knights forced 11 turnovers and blocked seven shots. And of course, they won the rebound battle 45-34.
Omar Payne and C.J. Walker each grabbed six rebounds, and Shemarri Allen had four rebounds, two blocks, and four steals.
Head coach Johnny Dawkins said he believed the team’s performance on defense was due to them realizing how to play the Big 12’s physical style of basketball.
“I think the more guys are getting used to the way it’s being played, the way it’s being called, guys are making the adjustments,” Dawkins said.
Diallo had a great offensive performance, but he also deserves his own section to talk about his defensive performance. He was the best player in the game.
Mountaineers head coach Josh Eilert said that Diallo was a real problem for his team, stating “he’s a presence down there (in the paint) for sure.”
That’s an understatement. Diallo dominated in the paint. In addition to his 12 points, he blocked three shots and grabbed 12 rebounds. He was a key reason the Mountaineers only scored 16 points in the paint.
Despite putting up a double-double, Diallo said after the game that he’s capable of more.
“Nah, that’s not my best basketball,” Diallo said.
Shemarri Allen Injured
In the second half, Shemarri Allen went down, grabbing his leg. He had to be carried to the bench by his teammates and was helped back to the locker room.
It is not currently known what his injury is, though Coach Dawkins said he rolled his ankle and that he’ll be looked at to see if it’s serious and how much time he’ll need to miss.
In his stead, Antwann Jones stepped up with his best game of the season, scoring 13 points on 5/7 shooting and dishing out three assists.
The Knights will be back in action on Saturday at Cincinnati (13-6, 2-4 Big 12). Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.