Knights Fall to Tigers in AAC Quarterfinals

Box Score (PDF)

FORT WORTH, Texas – The UCF men's basketball team's run in the American Athletic Conference Tournament came to an end Friday night at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas as the Knights (18-12) fell to Memphis (20-9) 82-69.

The Knights fell behind big early as Memphis jumped out to a 24-5 lead to open play, and despite a mid-game surge from UCF, the deficit would prove too big to overcome as the Tigers never lost their lead en route to the semifinal victory.

"I thought both teams played their hearts out, which is what you want to see in this type of environment," said head coach Johnny Dawkins.

"I think we played a team that's playing their best basketball right now in Memphis. I was very impressed with the way they played on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively. We really felt their presence out there… I couldn't be more proud of our guys and their effort,"

Despite the early deficit, the Knights never gave up, and a heave at the buzzer from freshman point guard Darius Johnson made it a 10-point game (41-31) entering the locker room at halftime.

UCF started the second half on an 11-3 run after back-to-back threes from Darius Perry and Dre Fuller Jr. cut the Memphis lead to two at 44-42, but the Tigers responded with eight in a row to push the lead back to 10. From there, Memphis only built on its lead to finish with the victory and advance to the semifinals, where they will face No. 2 SMU on Saturday, March 12 at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

Perry led all scorers with a season-high 23 points and seven assists on the night while Fuller Jr. chipped in with a season-high (and tied for career-best) 14 points.

AAC Freshman of the Year Jalen Duren proved to be an issue all night for UCF as he recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 21 points and 20 rebounds, adding a pair of blocks in the process. Duren becomes the first player to record a 20-20 game in the The American's conference tournament, and his 20 rebounds were a tournament single-game record.

Memphis hit 30-of-61 (49.2 percent) of its attempts from the floor in the win, outrebounding UCF 47-24.

The game marked the fourth time UCF and Memphis have met in the conference tournament, with Memphis winning two of the three previous meetings. The Tigers have now eliminated the Knights in the last three Championships (2019, 2021 and 2022).