TAMPA (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF men’s basketball team earned its fifth win in the last six games, defeating South Florida 75-63 on the road to sweep the War On I-4 Rivalry Series for the fourth straight year.
The Knights (21-6, 11-4), winners of back-to-back games, have now picked up their most regular season victories since going 21-9 back in 2011-12 and tied the program’s most American Athletic Conference wins since joining the league.
“I knew it was going to be a dog fight tonight,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “They’re a good program. They’re playing really well, so I knew we’d have to have a good game to be successful, and we had one tonight.”
UCF continued its stretch of recent success against its rival, winning in Tampa to pull back to .500 in true road games, at 4-4. For the Knights to continue its recent run of positivity, they will have to do it at the league leader, Houston, Saturday on ESPN.
On Wednesday, though, it was again a complete team effort that led the Knights to the win over South Florida (18-10, 7-8). Four UCF players scored in double figures as the Knights shot an impressive 55.6 percent from the floor.
After leading just 36-33 at halftime, the Knights used a 14-1 run early in the second to increase their lead to 50-36. Senior BJ Taylor ignited the spurt with five straight points, including his lone three-pointer of the game.
Taylor finished with 15 points, going 6-of-9 from the free throw line, but it was senior Tacko Fall who led the way for the second straight game, scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and a very respectable 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
“He’s been playing terrific,” Dawkins said of Fall. “We’ve been relying on him and he’s really stepped up for us. We need him to continue to do that. He needs to play like a senior big. He needs to play like the best big in the country and he’s playing like that right now.”
Fall and the Knights outrebounded a Bulls team that ranks 10th in the nation in rebound margin by a mark of 29-25. Fall had five, while Aubrey Dawkins and Chad Brown each led the way with seven boards in the game.
Dawkins also scored 14 points, while Dayon Griffin added 12 off the bench. Griffin was integral in keeping the Knights ahead in the first half, scoring 10 of his season-high 12 in the first 20 minutes. Griffin was 4-of-7 from the field with three assists and two blocked shots.
The Bulls made push after push to attempt to get back into the game, but the Knights never wavered. The veteran back court of Taylor and Allen controlled things, finishing with a combined 12 assists and just two turnovers.
The Knights had 19 assists on 25 field goals as a team and turned the ball over only 12 times, allowing just four steals against South Florida, which averages 8.3 steals per game.
UCF will now get set to head back on the road for a big matchup on Saturday. The Knights take on No. 6/8 Houston on ESPN at 4 p.m. ESPN College Game Day will be at the brand new Fertitta Center prior to tip-off in Houston.
- The win over South Florida is currently UCF’s first Quadrant 1 victory in terms of NCAA’s Net Rankings
- The Knights are now 21-0 when leading with two minutes to play
- Tacko Fall has won all 27 tips this season and the last 31 dating back to last season
- Over the last seven games, BJ Taylor has recorded 36 assists to just eight turnovers
- UCF now trails the all-time series against South Florida 22-17
TICKETS FOR 2018-19
Fans can purchase tickets for the final game of the 2018-19 UCF men's basketball season by calling (407) 823-1000 or online here: https://ucfknights.co/mbb1819tix.