UCF Erases 17-Point Deficit, Tops Oklahoma State in Overtime

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NASSAU, Bahamas – The UCF men's basketball team earned a comeback victory over Oklahoma State on Friday night after being down 17 points in the first half to win 60-56 in overtime. The Knights will play for a trophy on Sunday as they'll square off against Santa Clara at 7 p.m. in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship.

"What a game; four games in and we have two overtime games," said head coach Johnny Dawkins. "We beat a good basketball team tonight, they're physical and tough defensively. Our guys really had to find a way to dig deep to find a way to win. I'm just proud of our guy's effort. I thought they played hard, it took us a while to adjust to their length and athleticism. As the game wore on, I feel like we got a little more comfortable and we got back to playing UCF basketball. What a good win for our program."

The Knights jumped out to a 5-4 lead after a Taylor Hendricks three pointer and Michael Durr bucket. Oklahoma State surged shortly after, going on a 20-2 run in a span of 11 and a half minutes, pulling into a 24-7 advantage. The Black and Gold finished the first half with a 7-4 run to narrow the deficit to 11 at the break, trailing the Cowboys 28-17.

The Knights committed 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play, exceeding the entire amount they had their last time out against Western Illinois. They shot just 26% from the field and earned just four points in the paint and two from turnovers heading into the break.

UCF picked up right where it left off at half, opening the second stanza on a 9-4 run through the first five and a half minutes of play to draw back within 10. Both sides of the ball for the Knights were firing on all cylinders at this point, holding Oklahoma State scoreless over the next three minutes while scoring eight straight points to cut the Cowboy's deficit to just two at 37-35.

After a few buckets were traded back and forth, the Knights pulled in front with 4:56 to go when Hendricks nailed a three-pointer to put the Knights up 45-44. The Cowboys answered with a layup on their end of the floor the next trip down, but C.J. Kelly put UCF back in front with a triple of his own. C.J. Walker followed up Kelly's basket with a monstrous dunk to put the Black and Gold up 50-46 with three minutes to play.

Oklahoma State made four straight free throws to tie up the game with just under two minutes to go. Kelly sunk two from the stripe to regain the lead with 46 seconds remaining, but Oklahoma State answered with a fast break layup on their next possession to bring the score to 52-52. UCF had the ball with 33 seconds to go and tried to wind the clock down as far as they could but didn't get the shot off and committed a shot clock violation with two second left. Oklahoma State didn't score in the dying seconds of regulation, sending UCF to its second overtime game in just its fourth contest of the season.

The Knights shot a whole 13 percentage points better in the second half than they did the first, shooting 38.5% from the floor. After not getting to the free throw line in the first half, UCF made 10 of 11 in the second. The Black and Gold were able to cash in 13 points thanks to six second half turnovers from Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys started the extra frame with a dunk just 15 seconds in, but UCF answered a minute later with an Ithiel Horton three-pointer after an Oklahoma State turnover. The Cowboys earned a trip to the free throw line, but Avery Anderson III could only hit one of his two free throws to tie the score at 55-55.

The score remained that way for a full two minutes, as both sides combined for five missed shots and a turnover. Jayhlon Young earned a foul and made his two shots from the charity stripe, putting the Knights up two. Anderson III earned another trip to the free throw line and again was only able to hit one of two, leaving UCF in the lead 57-56.

Horton sunk one of two free throws with 18 seconds to go, putting the Knights up by two with Oklahoma State due for one more possession. The Cowboys missed a layup but got the rebound, only to be denied by the hands of Walker at the rim, earning a big block down the stretch. Oklahoma State grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with eight seconds to go.

The Cowboys missed their shot out of the timeout, as Kelly grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. He sunk his two free throws to earn the Knights a victory over their future Big 12 Conference mates in their first meeting against them in program history.

Oklahoma State did not make a field goal in the last 4:45 of the five-minute overtime period. Just five of the total 12 points in overtime were scored via field goals, with Horton sinking the only shot from the floor in overtime for UCF. The Knights made five of six free throws in the extra session.

Kelly was the team's leading scorer for the second consecutive game, tallying a season-high 18 points, one more than he had against Western Illinois on Monday night. Hendricks was just behind Kelly with 16 points and collected 12 boards, earning his second double-double of the season. Young spent the most time on the floor, clocking 38 minutes while scoring eight points and dishing out five assists, a season high for any Knight.

Friday's contest was the Black and Gold's first outside of the United States since the 2011-12 season when they took part in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Knights made a run to the championship, beating the College of Charleston and UConn on the way to the final, where they fell by 10 to Harvard.

The Knights will look to bring home the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship trophy on Sunday as they will face Santa Clara at 7 p.m.

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