No Shocker, Knights Win Over Wichita State

Box Score (pdf)

ORLANDO—The UCF men's basketball team had every reason to play with a chip on its shoulder Tuesday night at Addition Financial Arena.
The Knights' 28-point spanking in defeat at Memphis Saturday night appeared most prominently in the rearview mirror—and the memory of UCF's five-point loss at Wichita State 13 days ago hadn't gone away either.
That didn't even take into account the fact UCF had never beaten Wichita State in eight previous meetings.
This time the Shockers paid the price—despite coming to town having won three of their last four (after an 0-4 AAC start), including an emphatic 15-point win over second-place SMU Saturday.
It came in the form of a 71-66 UCF victory that pulled the winners back to .500 in league play and pushed the Knights' overall success total to 14. Only Houston, SMU and Cincinnati have won more often.
"Any win after a loss is really important," said veteran UCF guard Darius Perry.
"I was proud of the way we responded, but I wasn't surprised. Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward. And we want to continue to move in the right direction," said UCF coach Johnny Dawkins.
"We never let them take the lead late. They'd get it to two or three, and then we'd make a play."
Fifth-year guard Brandon Mahan had 19 points and a game-high-tying nine rebounds for UCF. Junior guard Darin Green Jr. added 17 points on five three-point goals. Senior front-liner Cheikh Mbacke Diong contributed 11 points and nine rebounds, while Perry had 10 points.
Wichita State sophomore guard Tyson Etienne led all scorers with 26 points and paced Shocker rebounders with seven. Junior guard Craig Porter Jr. had 14 points, and junior guard Dexter Dennis 11. Freshman guard Ricky Council IV, who had 31 points versus UCF Jan. 26, didn't score in the first half and finished with five points.
After UCF led by 14 at intermission, the Shockers worked their way back to a two-point deficit (49-47) before five straight points by Green. A four-point play by Mahan at 3:34 doubled the Knights' lead to 66-58.
But Etienne knocked down consecutive threes to pull Wichita State back to within two at 66-64—and Porter missed a chance to tie the contest on a missed attempt in the lane with 54 seconds to go. Mahan added a three-point play at the 25.9-second mark--as the shot clock nearly expired--to make it 69-64.
"Brandon loves those moments--and you can't coach that. We've seen him do that multiple times," said Dawkins.
Wichita State hit its first three shots (all threes) and broke to an 11-2 advantage. But it was all UCF from there in the first half. Perry's layup (his 1,000th career point) gave the Knights their first lead at 18-17 at 9:57 as Wichita State missed five straight shots. Four consecutive field goals by the home team pushed the Knights' margin to 37-24—and the largest UCF lead came at 43-27 on a spectacular Mbacke Diong alley-oop dunk.
UCF (14-8 overall, 6-6 AAC) plays a makeup home game Monday versus Tulsa (7 p.m. EST on ESPN+). The Knights now are 10-3 at home—and Tuesday began a string of four home dates (also Tulsa, ECU and Cincinnati) in five games.
Wichita State (12-9, 3-6) heads back home to face South Florida Saturday night.