UCF Falls to No. 21 Auburn

Box Score (PDF)

AUBURN, Ala. ­­– It was a tale of two halves for the UCF men's basketball team (4-2) Wednesday night in Auburn, Alabama as the Knights fell, 85-68, to the No. 21 ranked Tigers (6-1) after being outscored by 14 points in the second half.

"We have to play with more poise," said head coach Johnny Dawkins. [Auburn] is a good basketball team, and as they started to build a lead, we started to play uncharacteristically too fast. We really weren't moving the ball like we did in the first half, partly because we started to fall behind and guys started pressing. We can't do that - our guys have to trust each other."

The Knights held their own against Auburn to open the game and even led the Tigers deep into the first half before going into halftime down just 39-36.

But the Tigers came out hot in the second half, claiming a 14-point lead nine minutes in, which proved to be too much for the Knights to overcome.

Fifth-year senior Darius Perry led UCF with a season-high 18 points, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Meanwhile, redshirt senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong contributed with 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks. 

With the pair of blocks, Mbacke Diong now has at least one block in all but one game this season and is averaging 1.80 blocks per game, good for second in the conference.

6-foot-10 Auburn freshman Jabari Smith was a thorn in the night all evening for UCF, totaling a game-high 20 points, including nine from beyond the arc, while adding seven rebounds and four assists.

Following the loss, UCF is now 8-50 all-time against ranked opponents but 5-16 under Dawkins.

Following a 4-0 start to the season that included a win on the road over in-state rival Miami, the Black and Gold have now dropped their last two matchups to move to 4-2 on the young season. They will be back in action on Dec. 5 as UCF welcomes Bethune-Cookman to Addition Financial Arena in Orlando for a 2:00 p.m. tip.