Preview: Knights Hit the Road for Illinois State

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ORLANDO –  The UCF men's basketball team aims to rebound after a home loss to Miami when the Knights travel to Normal, Illinois, for a road tilt with Illinois State Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
This weekend is the return trip of a home-and-home series the Knights (1-1) won the front end of last season. UCF defeated Illinois State 77-56 in Orlando on Dec. 21 of last season, the fourth of seven straight wins for the Knights.
UCF owns a 2-0 advantage over Illinois State in the all-time series, also defeating the Redbirds 63-62 in the second round of the 2017 National Invitation Tournament. Illinois State was the no. 1 seed, and the Knights came back to defeat the Redbirds on their home court and advance to the quarterfinals.
Date: Sunday, Nov. 17
Time: 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago/ESPN3
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game
SETTING THE SCENE                                                                       

  • The new-look UCF men's basketball team has opened up the 2019-20 season with mixed results through two games, splitting a pair of home contests against Prairie View A&M and Miami.
  • Last year, the Knights went 24-9, earned their first at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament and picked up their first NCAA Tournament win, a 73-58 first-round triumph over VCU.
  • As a nine seed, it was the highest seed in program history and UCF nearly took down top overall seed Duke, before falling in the final moments on a missed tip-in that rolled around the rim.

COULDN'T CATCH CANES                            

  • The Knights didn't have enough firepower to stick with Miami in their second game of the season, ultimately falling 79-70 to drop to 1-1 on the season.
  • The Hurricanes shot 56.7 percent from the field in the second half and turned the ball over just nine times en route to 49 second-half points in the victory.
  • UCF, meanwhile, turned the ball over 17 times and went just 5-for-12 from the free throw line in the defeat.

BALANCED ATTACK                                                        

  • Through two games of the 2019-20 season, UCF has five players averaging double figures.
  • Dazon Ingram leads the way with 12.5 points, while Collin Smith and Ceasar DeJesus are averaging 11.0 and Frank Bertz and Darin Green Jr. are at 10.5 points per game.
  • DeJesus is the only Knight to have scored in double figures in both games this season, putting up 11 in both contests.

SMITH STARTS SEASON TWO WITH KNIGHTS                                                                    

  • After transferring from George Washington and sitting out a season, Collin Smith saw his first action with UCF in 2018-19, starting 32 of 33 games at the forward position.
  • Smith averaged 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game, playing alongside Tacko Fall down low.
  • With Fall gone, Smith will look to take on a larger role on both sides of the floor.
  • Last season, Smith's biggest moment was scoring 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds in a road win at no. 6 Houston.
  • Through two games, Smith is averaging 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.

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