ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – Behind a game-high 24 points from senior guard B.J. Taylor, the UCF men’s basketball team earned its fifth straight win, defeating visiting Alabama by a score of 70-64 Thursday evening at CFE Arena.
“I am just really proud of our guys,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said after the game. “I thought they gave a tremendous effort to hold that team to 64 points with their ability to score the basketball inside and out. It took a great effort and I thought our guys gave that tonight and beat a very good basketball team.”
Last season, the Knights went to Tuscaloosa and upset the then No. 24 Crimson Tide 65-62 to snap a three-game losing skid. This time around, UCF was favored. The Knights came in receiving votes in both national polls, but didn’t allow Alabama to upset them on their home floor.
“I think this is a quality win for us against a good team and those things will help us, more so internally just having success against a team like that as we go forward,” Dawkins said. “I think it will just continue to build on our guys’ confidence as we got out and compete.”
UCF (6-1) competed for 40 minutes and led for over 37 in the victory. In fact, the Knights led by as many as 12 points in the first half, before giving up an Alabama run that cut their halftime advantage to just four points, at 29-25.
The Crimson Tide (5-2) finally took the lead three minutes into the second half on a three-pointer by Alex Reese. They led again at 40-38, but after a bucket in the paint form Taylor and two free throws from Aubrey Dawkins, UCF had the lead for good.
Leading just 50-48 with 9:22 to play, Taylor hit one of two threes on back-to-back possessions to regain the advantage. His second, part of a 7-2 run by UCF, gave the Knights a 56-50 advantage they maintained to the final buzzer.
“I think it was good for us to get a run like that,” Taylor said. “One (three) was in transition and the other was early in the shot clock. We are a team that keeps building. With me and Aubrey both excellent three-point shooters, (if) we have our open looks in transition, we are going to take our shots and that’s our job on the team is to make those kind of plays.”
Taylor finished with a game-high 24 points, his third game with 20 or more points this season. The senior went 6-of-11 from the floor, 3-of-5 from three-point range and 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
“We got the ball into B.J.’s hands and some good situations and he took advantage of it and that’s what he does,” Dawkins said. “I was really happy for him. I thought his whole game today was really good from start to finish as far as his mind set and his approach and it really carried over into the second half where he made some big plays for us.”
Taylor, Dawkins and Tacko Fall all finished in double figures, the third straight time that all three members of the trio have scored in double figures in the same game. Dawkins had 16 on 10-of-10 from the line, while Fall finished with 10 points and four blocked shots in the victory.
“It’s a great win for us, a good win for our program, and a resume building win as we move closer towards March,” Taylor said. “They are a really good team out of the SEC and we are just really happy to get the win.”
The Knights will now head on the road for another test against an SEC opponent. UCF looks to avenge last year’s home loss when the team takes on Missouri Sunday at 3 p.m. with coverage on ESPNU.
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.