Knights Dominate Second Half in 65-48 Win at Temple

Box Score (pdf)

PHILADELPHIA – It took until the second half for the UCF men's basketball team (7-2, 1-0) to find its groove Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, but the Knights ultimately did just that to come away the victors and open American Athletic Conference play with a 65-48 win over Temple (6-5, 0-1) at their place.

The win over Temple marked UCF's second ever over the Owls in Philadelphia and their first since Feb. 22, 2017 when they won by two points (71-69). The Knights have now won 12 of their last 15 dating back to last season, and UCF is now 4-2 all-time in league openers under head coach Johnny Dawkins.

"I thought our second half was terrific," said Dawkins. "I told our team at halftime, as long as we were going to defend like we did in the first half, we would be in good shape because I knew our offense would follow and it did."

Offense was few and far between for both squads early Wednesday night as it took over 11 minutes for Temple to crack 10 points and nearly 16 for UCF to reach double digits. Heading into the half, the score was just 19-18 in Temple's favor.

The Knights' 18 points scored in the first half marked their lowest first half total since Feb. 21, 2019, when they tallied 18 at Cincinnati before going on to fall, 60-55.

On the other side, Temple's 19 is the the least amount of points UCF has allowed to an opponent in the first half since holding SMU to 14 on March 4, 2020 before going on to win, 61-58.

Coming out of the locker room to begin the second half, UCF seemed like a different team as they outscored the Owls, 11-3 through the first four minutes to take a 29-22 lead and they didn't look back from there.

The Knights shot 65 percent from the field over the second half, compared to just 19 percent through the first 20 minutes, helping them to outscore the Owls by 18 points in the second half alone.

Three Knights posted double-digit scoring totals in the victory as Brandon Mahan (18), Darin Green Jr. (17) and Tyem Freeman (14) all had solid outings.

Mahan's 18 were a season-high for the fifth-year senior. He was also a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line, moving his consecutive made free throw streak to 44 straight dating back to last season.

Freeman's 14 point scored marked a career-high for the first-year Knight, plus he added seven rebounds and three assists, also career-highs.

Next up, the Knights return to the Sunshine State for a neutral site matchup with in-state foes Florida State, who the Knights defeated, 86-74, in Tallahassee last season. The game, which is part of the AutoNation Orange Bowl Classic, will be streamed live on Bally Sports Sun and is scheduled to tip at 3:30 p.m.