Knights Beat Down Bulls in War On I-4

Box Score (pdf)

ORLANDO—The South Florida men's basketball team lost six of seven games in January, had dropped seven of eight overall and has won only once since Dec. 23.
That single Bulls victory left a big lump that stuck in UCF's collective craw—because it amounted to a disappointing 75-51 South Florida win over the Knights Jan. 15 in Tampa. UCF in that contest didn't have a single player score in double figures.
Johnny Dawkins' crew went a long way toward making that UCF frustration go away with its 68-49 rebound of a victory over the rival Bulls Thursday night at Addition Financial Arena in the latest version of the War on I-4.
This one was virtually the reverse of that January match—mostly because UCF guards Darin Green Jr. and Darius Perry shot the lights out. Green knocked down six three-pointers and Perry five—as the Knights as a team connected on 14 shots from long distance (to only two for South Florida).
"We were just a different team (than the previous meeting)—our energy and focus," said Perry.
Green finished with 23 points. Perry had a season-high 20 plus five assists. Senior forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong led all rebounders with seven—while Perry and C.J. Walker each had six. UCF won the board battle 42-32 after being dominated in that column in Tampa.
Sophomore center Russel Tchewa paced South Florida with 13 points—while Caleb Murphy contributed 11 (but shot only five of 16). Senior guard Javon Greene (he scored 19 versus the Knights last month) this time did not make a field goal (he had four free throws and seven assists).
"I liked the way we started the game – we were hungry, we were excited, we respected the rivalry," said Dawkins. "This is who we want to be."
"Darin (Green Jr.) and Darius (Perry) both were terrific. Good to see them making shots. When they do that they are electric. They set the tone right away."
The home team led 61-37 after a 9-0 second-half run, matching its largest advantage of the evening.
South Florida (6-14, 1-7 AAC) was on top 11-8 after a 7-0 early run. Then the Knights got hot—connecting on six straight shots (to lead 25-17 after consecutive Green threes) and nine of 11. UCF pushed to a 36-24 intermission cushion behind Green's 14 points—thanks to a 28-12 run at the end of the half. 
The Bulls have not won in Orlando since 2014. UCF has won nine straight over the Bulls at home and stands 12-3 overall over the last 15 games versus South Florida.
UCF (13-7 overall, 5-5 AAC) heads on the road Saturday to meet Memphis (8 p.m. EST on ESPN2). The Knights' next home appearance is Tuesday versus Wichita State (9 p.m. EST on ESPNU).
South Florida returns to Tampa for home games Monday against Temple and Wednesday versus Cincinnati.