Perry Propels Knights Over Bulls in AAC Tourney

Box Score (pdf)

FORT WORTH, Texas – Fifth-year guard Darius Perry connected on his third 3-pointer of the night with 33 seconds to play in the game to break the final tie of the game and lift the UCF men's basketball team over rival South Florida 60-58 in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament Thursday evening at Dickies Arena.

The 11th-seeded Bulls (8-23) drew even with the sixth-seeded Knights (18-11) when Corey Walker Jr. hit a jumper with just about a minute and a half to play. After Perry's dagger three from the corner, it was Walker again, driving for two to make it 59-58 with 18 seconds on the clock.

Freshman Darius Johnson was fouled on the ensuing inbound and hit 1-of-2 shots from the line to make it a two-point game that held until the final buzzer as South Florida missed on multiple 3-point attempts in the final moments.

"I think it was a great game. It's always expected when you're playing your rival, and we've had two really good games this year versus South Florida," said head coach Johnny Dawkins. "And this game right here, I thought both teams played very well and we came out with the win.

"Our guys have a lot of heart. I thought they kept fighting through the adversity, kept fighting through the fact that they were relentless on the boards and our guys just kept battling and we made the plays we needed to make."

Perry led four Knights in double figures with 13 points while Darius Johnson had 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Junior guard Darin Green Jr. added 11 points and sophomore Tyem Freeman chipped in with 10.

Caleb Murphy led South Florida with a game-high 15 points, while Russel Tchewa recorded his third double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The game marked the first time the two teams faced each other in the conference tournament.

UCF continues to play for its first American Athletic Conference Championship and fifth conference tournament overall. The Knights won the Atlantic Sun Tournament four times in 1994, 1996, 2004 and 2005.

With the win, Memphis (19-9, 13-5 AAC) awaits the Knights in the quarterfinals game tomorrow. As the third seed, the Tigers earned a bye in the first round. UCF and Memphis will square off at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

"[Memphis] is a very good basketball team," said Dawkins. "They're experienced, play well, have a lot of talent, but so do we. We're excited about the challenge of competing against them tomorrow."