ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF men’s basketball team returned home, but continued its winning ways from the road trip, defeating previously undefeated Northern Kentucky 66-53 Saturday at CFE Arena.
“We beat a very good basketball team tonight,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said after the game. “They are well coached and are one of the fastest teams we have played this year. They move that basketball up and down, make or miss, and are flying down the court. I was really proud of our guys and our effort and I was happy that we were able to play well enough to get the win.”
The Knights (5-1), now winners of four in a row, used a 25-8 run at the start of the second half to pull away from the Norse (6-1) and earn their second home victory of the 2018-19 campaign.
Senior center Tacko Fall scored six of the Knights’ first 11 points in the second to increase UCF’s two-point halftime advantage to 11, at 45-34 early on in the final 20 minutes of action.
Fall was successful all night, continuing his solid play from the Myrtle Beach Invitational. He finished the night with a season high 20 points on 7-of-8 from the field, nine rebounds and one blocked shot.
“I thought Tacko was terrific,” Dawkins said. “He has been building towards this all season long and we have seen it coming in practice. He played terrific on both ends of the floor. The offense speaks for itself, he had 20 points tonight, but it’s what he did on the defensive end and how active he was guarding guys that were out in the perimeter. He was really effective for us tonight and I am happy with his overall development.”
Northern Kentucky, which won the Horizon League regular season championship last year, came into Saturday averaging 85.7 points per game.
The Knights defense, which has now held three its last four opponents under 60 points, was able to clamp down on the Norse in the second half. After allowing NKU to shooting 6-of-16 from beyond the arc in the first half, UCF allowed only two second half threes on 15 Norse attempts.
“In the second half our guys really did key in on their shooters and we locked in,” Dawkins said. “I think (that) was the difference in the ball game.”
On the inside, Chad Brown helped Fall control the paint with a season high three blocks, increasing his yearly total to 10. Brown also added five points and seven boards in the win. The Knights held NKU to just 32.2 percent shooting from the field, a season best for UCF.
“I think over the last three or four games, I think our defensive intensity has really picked up for 40 minutes and that has been a difference for us,” Dawkins said. “We are back to playing UCF defense, which like I have said before is blue collar, workman-like defense and when we play that way I think our offense is better, so our defense compliments what we do offensively.”
For the sixth time in six games as a Knight, Aubrey Dawkins scored in double figures. Dawkins totaled 12 points, including two three-pointers, while B.J. Taylor chipped in 10 and Collin Smith added seven. Terrell Allen led the way with five assists and had no turnovers.
The Knights outrebounded Northern Kentucky 51-35, another season high for UCF. The Black and Gold outscored the Norse 14-5 in second chance points.
UCF will have a second chance to take down Alabama on Thursday. The Knights, who earned the program’s first ever road victory over a ranked opponent when they defeated the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa last season, will welcome Bama on the return trip to CFE Arena.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with coverage on ESPNU and FM 96.9 The Game.
TICKETS FOR 2018-19
Fans can purchase tickets for the 2018-19 UCF men's basketball season by calling (407) 823-1000 or online here: https://ucfknights.co/mbb1819tix.
The big guy got it done again tonight.— UCF Men's Basketball (@UCF_MBB) November 25, 2018