Men's Hoops Set to Visit Memphis

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ORLANDO – The UCF men's basketball is set for a road contest in Memphis on Thursday for an 8 p.m. tip on ESPN+.

The Knights are coming off a second straight win, one in which saw them top Tulsa by a massive 44-point margin. UCF donned a modern look to its throwback Citronaut heritage for the second Space Game in program history. The most notable accomplishment in the dominant win was the team's 17 three pointers, setting the program's new single game record, topping the previous record of 16 set against Memphis earlier this year as well as against Campbell during the 2004 season. UCF accumulated 28 assists in the 96-52 win over the Golden Hurricane, something that hadn't been done in over 10 years; the last time the Knights tallied 25 or more assists was against Florida A&M on Jan. 5, 2013 when they posted 27. UCF turned the ball over just three times against Tulsa, something that hadn't been done since Feb. 26, 2012, when the Knights had three turnovers against UTEP in a 63-45 win.

Multiple Knights performed at a high level in the contest against the Golden Hurricane, as five Knights finished the game in double digit scoring while six different members of the Black and Gold buried a three-pointer. Ithiel Horton led the way in scoring with 20 points and six three pointers, the second time he's hit half a dozen triples and the third time he has scored 20 or more points. Just behind Horton was Taylor Hendricks who had 18, Darius Johnson who had 13, C.J. Kelly finished with 12 and Thierno Sylla tied a career-high with 10 points. Johnson added 10 assists to the stat sheet, earning his second double-double of the season and tying his career high in helpers.

Hendricks added two massive blocks in the contest, putting him at 42 this season. Currently, he is one of two players in the NCAA with 40 or more three-pointers, 40 or more blocks and 25 or more dunks. He has been putting the nation on notice all season long, and the American Athletic Conference continued to recognize that this week as they named him as the league's Rookie of the Week for the seventh time this season. The seventh nod is a new conference record, passing four American student-athletes who have six freshman weekly honors, including Dedric Lawson (2015-16), Precious Achiuwa (2019-20) and Jalen Duren (2021-22) of Memphis and Houston's Jarace Walker, who has six awards this season.

The Knights boast a 37% mark from three-point land this season, a mark that is currently first in the conference and 42nd in the nation. They average nine three pointers a game, a mark that is second in the conference and 32nd in the country. Not only can UCF shoot the three ball, but it can also defend it. The Black and Gold hold opponents to just a 30.6% mark from downtown, ranking them 33rd in the country.

UCF will look to use some of that defense to slow down Memphis, who averages 81.2 points per game entering the contest. The two teams had quite the battle back in mid-January, a 107-104 tilt that ended in a double overtime victory for the Knights. The Black and Gold won its fifth game in the last six meetings against Memphis in Orlando, doing so by erasing a 14-point deficit in the second half. Horton netted 30 points in the game, a season-high and was one point away from tying a career-high. UCF buried 16 threes, which at the time had tied the program record for triples in a game. The victory had put the Knights out to a 4-1 start in conference play, something that had been done twice under head coach Johnny Dawkins' tenure. The two occasions were the 2016-17 season that saw UCF reach the NIT and the 2018-19 campaign that saw the Knights make the NCAA Tournament.

The two teams have had differing fates since playing back on Jan. 11. The Knights lost their starting center, Michael Durr, the game prior to the mid-January meeting with Memphis and went on a five-game losing streak immediately following the victory. The Black and Gold have recently picked up a pair of victories to go 2-5 since the win over the Tigers. Meanwhile, Memphis has lost just one game since falling in Orlando, going 7-1 to improve to 19-6 overall and 9-3 in league play. The Tigers' lone loss was to Tulane by a point at home in overtime back on Feb. 4.

Memphis is led by Kendric Davis, who averages a whopping 21.8 points per game along with a season total of 150 assists. DeAndre Williams has been filling up the basket as well, averaging 17.5 points a contest along with an average of 8.2 rebounds per game. Kaod Akobundu-ehiogu, who has played in 24 games and started in eight, averages just 2.9 points a game and 1.8 rebounds a contest, but has an impressive 42 blocks on the season, sharing the conference lead with UCF's Hendricks.

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