Hendricks' Career Night Leads Men's Hoops Past Tulsa

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TULSA, Okla. – The UCF men's basketball team snapped it's three-game skid with a dominant 68-49 victory over the Golden Hurricane on Sunday night. Taylor Hendricks led the way with a career-high 25 points while the Black and Gold held Tulsa to just 14 points in the first half, the lowest total by the Golden Hurricane in any half in the history of its home venue.

"I was happy with the way we started the game," said head coach Johnny Dawkins. "We definitely had a defensive mindset holding a team to 14 in a half is outstanding."

The game started out looking like a bake sale, plenty of cookies and turnovers to go around. UCF won the tip and turned the ball over on the first possession, but took it right back thanks to a C.J. Kelly steal and layup to give the Knights the first points of the game. Tulsa turned the ball over on its first three possessions. In total, the Golden Hurricane had four turnovers and the Knights had three at the first media timeout, where the score stood at 4-2 in favor of the Black and Gold.

Tulsa took a brief 5-4 lead, their only of the contest, which lasted for a minute and a half before the Knights went on a monster run.

UCF put up 17 unanswered points, pulling ahead 21-5 with 6:18 remaining in the first. Five different Knights contributed to building the lead, as Hendricks and Brandon Suggs had five points each, Ithiel Horton had four, Lahat Thioune had two and Michael Durr had one.

The Knights ended the half with an exclamation point as Hendricks took matters into his own hands. A lob from Suggs with just under 45 seconds left on the clock was finished off with a slam. At the other end of the floor, Hendricks grabbed the rebound from a missed three pointer. Holding for the last possession, Durr put up a three pointer with a handful of seconds on the clock. Hendricks was on the scene for the rebound, pulling off a spinning fadeaway at the buzzer to send UCF into the break up 32-14.

The 14 points allowed by the Knights was the lowest in any half this season, besting the 16 allowed back in November against Santa Clara in the final of the Baha Mar Hoops Championship. The points were the fewest Tulsa has ever posted in a half at the Reynolds Center, a building that opened in December 1998.

Hendricks finished the half with as many points as Tulsa did and added eight rebounds in the process. He added a block and an assist in the process and while shooting six-of-eight from the field. The Knights shot 53.8% from the floor in the first while Tulsa was limited to just 27.3%. UCF's defense forced 10 turnovers through the first 20 minutes.

UCF's biggest lead of the game occurred at the 14:01 mark of the second half as the scoreboard read 50-19, a whopping 31-point advantage. The 18-5 run was primarily powered by Hendricks and Horton, accounting for 15 of the 18.

Tulsa made a few runs of their own throughout the second half, the largest being an 11-0 run with 6:31 to go. The closest the Golden Hurricane got to leveling the contest was 16 points with under two minutes to go.

The Knights earned their fifth defensive masterpiece of the season as Tulsa was the fifth team to score 50 points or less against the Black and Gold. It's the first time UCF has done so since the conference opener, a 52-45 win over Wichita State.

Hendricks scored 14 points in the first half and 13 in the second for a career-high 25 points. He scored 11 of the 13 second half points in a span of 3:40 to begin the final frame. His 24th and 25th points came on a fast break layup off a turnover with just under six minutes left in the contest. Hendricks now has five games with 20 or more points and 11 with eight or more rebounds. He's made three three-pointers in each of his last four games. He made 10 field goals in the contest, tying a career high. He also added two blocks in the process, building on his conference lead.

"He was terrific," said Dawkins. "I thought he really just let the game come to him as he always does. His teammates did a great job of finding him when he was open, and he does what he does. He's aggressive, he takes his looks and he's a great shooter."

Horton and Kelly each contributed a dozen points in the victory. Horton, who reached 1,000 career points on January 25 already has over 100 more a month later and now sits at 1,111. He's posted 107 points over the last seven games, an average of 15.3 per contest. Kelly is fast approaching the 1,000-point club, sitting at 969 after Sunday's contest.

Horton achieved a career-high in steals for the second consecutive game. He snagged four steals against South Florida to tie his career-high, then set a new career high with six steals on Sunday.

If the Knights had held Tulsa to 40 points or less, it would have been the lowest total that Tulsa had ever posted at the Reynolds Center.

UCF continues its final road trip of the regular season with a trip to Philadelphia to visit Temple on Mar. 2 for a 7 p.m. tip.

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