ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF men’s basketball team bounced back from a mid-week road loss and erased a 15-point first half deficit to win 64-62 against visiting Tulsa Saturday afternoon at CFE Arena.
“We beat a good basketball team,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said after the game. “We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. They play really hard. They play with a lot of pride in their program, and you could see it by how physical they play, how fast they play. It was a really good win for us.”
It didn’t start out good. After the Knights (14-3, 4-1) scored the first six points of the game, the Golden Hurricane (12-7, 2-4) used a 15-0 run to take the early advantage. Tulsa extended its first half lead to 15 points, at 28-13 with 5:11 to play in the frame, before UCF fought back.
A Chad Brown bucket in the lane and a BJ Taylor three-pointer got the deficit to 10, and two free throws by Dayon Griffin made it just single digits, which is where things ended after 20 minutes. Tulsa led 32-23 at the break.
“It was a real test of our guys’ will, especially getting down by as many as 15 in the first half, I thought our guys responded,” Dawkins said. “In the second half we were a different team. We started locking in defensively better and offense came from that.”
UCF used a 12-5 run early in the second half to cut the Tulsa lead down to just three points, at 38-35 when Tacko Fall scored in the paint just three minutes into the period.
It wasn’t until the 10:27 mark that the Knights finally took the lead again, as Brown hit a jumper off the glass to make it 45-44 midway through the second half.
Collin Smith, who finished just one point shy of his season high with 13, scored all 13 in the second half. At one time, he scored seven of UCF’s nine points to help maintain the lead.
“Collin Smith had one of the best games of his career for us,” Dawkins said. “I’m really proud of what he did in the second half, especially. Collin really responded like a mature player. He came in and made plays for us. He really stepped up his game in the second half. That says a lot about who he is and his character.”
Taylor led four Knights in double figures with 15 points, including knocking down seven free throws in the final 2:26 of play. He was 7-of-10 at the line for the game and added three assists.
To go along with his 13 points, Smith added four rebounds and three assists. Tacko Fall had 12 points and six boards, while Aubrey Dawkins added 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. Brown led the way on the boards, tying a career-high with 10 rebounds with seven points.
UCF returns to action Wednesday on the road. The Knights take on Tulane at 8 p.m. with coverage on ESPN3 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.