Knights Topple Temple, Prepare for Final Home Game Sunday

Knights Topple Temple, Prepare for Final Home Game Sunday

PHILADELPHIA – All five Knights starters scored in double figures as the UCF men’s basketball team came back from down 11 points in the second half to win 71-69 at Temple Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center.

“They came out and played with a lot of intensity, a lot of passion,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said of the Owls. “Our guys matched it and I’m happy we came away with the win.”

The victory sets up the Knights for the final home game when they face No. 15 Cincinnati at 3 p.m. Sunday at CFE Arena.

Trailing 33-24 at the break, the Knights (18-10, 9-7 AAC) allowed Temple to increase its lead to 11 points when Obi Enechionyia hit one of his five three-pointers on the night to make it 39-28 just two and a half minutes into the second half.

“We knew we didn’t play our best basketball, especially offensively in the first half,” Dawkins said. “Give them credit. They made a lot of tough mid-range shots, but I just challenged our guys to step it up. We just needed to settle down and run good stuff. I thought our guys did that.”

It looked as though UCF was destined for another road defeat, where five of the Knights’ seven conference losses have occurred.  Then B.J. Taylor hit a three.  Then Matt Williams made back-to-back threes.  Williams connected again from inside the arc and the game was tied 39-39.

“I thought B.J. did a great job. He was big down the stretch for us,” Dawkins said. “Matt really got us started in the second half with his assertiveness. That’s how he has to play. Him doing that really established everyone else.”

The Owls (14-15, 5-11 AAC) eventually took control once again, leading 53-46 midway through the second half, but the Knights continued to battle back.

UCF took its first lead of the second half when senior Nick Banyard scored a pair of jumpers in the paint to make it 65-63 with just 2:28 to play in the game. Trading blow for blow, it was Taylor doing the work for the Knights down the stretch. The point guard scored the final six points for UCF, as the Knights escaped Philly with the two-point victory.

THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT FACTS FROM WEDNESDAY’S WIN All five UCF starters scored in double figures and all played over 30 minutes

  • Taylor, Williams, Banyard, Tacko Fall and A.J. Davis all played over 30 minutes, while Chad Brown was the only sub to play more than five in the game.
  • Taylor led the way with 19 points on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
  • Fall added 14, Williams had 13, Banyard added 11 and Davis chipped in with 10.

The Knights recorded a season low nine turnovers and only one in the second half

  • After winning the turnover battle on the road in a win at East Carolina on Saturday, UCF was once again solid with the ball Wednesday, turning it over just nine times against the Owls.
  • UCF’s previous low was 10 in a win against Mississippi State back on Nov. 17.
  • The Knights’ one second-half turnover led to 47 second half points on 58.1 percent shooting from the field (18-of-31).

Tacko Fall set a new UCF Division I era record for single-season rebounds

  • With his seventh rebound of the night, Fall set a new record at UCF in the program’s NCAA Division I era with 269 boards this season.
  • He passed Ken Leeks, who had 268 in the 1990-91 season.
  • With 10 rebounds in the game, Fall now has 272 and is fourth all-time in any UCF era.
  • Totaling 14 points and 10 boards, he recorded his 11th double-double of the season.

UCF is now 9-7 in league play and currently in fifth place in the AAC standings

  • The Knights, who have well surpassed their best ever finish in the American Athletic Conference (6-12, 2015-16), are now 9-7 with just two games to play.
  • Currently in sixth place, UCF will look to pass Memphis (8-6) in the final two games to secure a bye in the AAC Tournament (top five teams).

NEXT UP UCF will return home to host No. 15 Cincinnati on Sunday.  The Knights and the Bearcats are slated to tip-off at 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.  It will be Senior Day at CFE Arena, as Matt Williams, Tank Efianayi and Nick Banyard will be honored prior to the tip.

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