UCF Stymies Memphis to End Series of Streaks

Box Score (pdf)

ORLANDO—The UCF men's basketball team wiped out a handful of streaks Wednesday night at Addition Financial Arena.
Memphis had defeated the Knights five straight times--and the current Tigers had won three straight games (and four of five) in recent weeks. Meanwhile, UCF had lost two in a row after winning five straight.
All that came to an end after a superior early shooting exhibition by UCF paved the way for a 74-64 victory over Memphis despite multiple late runs by the Tigers.
"To bounce back after two tough losses, our guys showed a lot of character. We got back to playing UCF basketball, and we'd gotten away from that. Our guys embraced what we do, and we did it for 40 minutes tonight," said UCF coach Johnny Dawkins.
"A game like tonight shows our guys what they are capable of accomplishing. When they (Memphis) were making runs, no one got rattled and we waited for our opportunities. Our response tonight was one by a team that has a chance to be really good."
Junior guard Darin Green Jr. notched 20 points (eight of 14 from the field). His four three-point goals keynoted a 45.8% shooting effort by the home team (11 of 28 on long-distance attempts). Junior C.J. Walker and freshman Darius Johnson added 12 points each--and Walker and senior Cheikh Mbacke Diong had seven rebounds apiece. Fifth-year guard Darius Perry had 11 points and five assists for UCF, as six different Knights connected for at least one three-pointer.
Senior guard Tyler Harris led Memphis with 15 points, all on three-pointers. Highly touted rookie Emoni Bates kicked in 12 to go with 11 by junior Landers Nolley II and 10 from junior Malcolm Dandridge. The Tigers missed 12 of 18 free throws, turned the ball over 19 times and shot only 39.7%.
The Knights mostly had their way in the opening half, maintaining a 34-19 lead with less than four minutes remaining. That came after the visitors misfired on nine of 11 shots during one late stretch.
After Memphis (9-6 overall, 3-2 in AAC) missed five of its first six shots, UCF broke out from an 8-8 tie with seven straight points. The Tigers missed seven field-goal attempts in succession as the home team went on a 14-2 run to lead 29-14.
Memphis made it closer at intermission thanks to a late 8-0 that sliced the UCF lead to as few as seven in the final two minutes of the first half.
Veteran fifth-year guard Brandon Mahan (0-4 from the floor to that point) and Green opened the second half with threes to push the UCF advantage back to 15 at 42-27. Another Green three (his fourth of the night) gave him 18 points and advanced the Knights' margin to 47-28—forcing Memphis coach (and former Orlando Magic star) Penny Hardaway to call timeout at 17:42 before Memphis scored its first second-half field goal.
After the Tigers again cut the margin to seven, Perry connected on a three-point goal, was fouled and added the free throw to make it 58-47 at 9:53.
Then, down 10, Memphis missed a pair of dunk opportunities on a single possession with about five minutes remaining.
UCF (10-4 overall, 2-2 AAC) heads to Tampa Saturday to play rival South Florida (7 p.m. EST on ESPNU) in the latest edition of the War on I-4.