Men's Hoops Falls to Memphis 81-76 in AAC Quarterfinals

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FORT WORTH, Texas – The UCF men's basketball team was defeated in the American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinals, falling to Memphis 81-76. C.J. Kelly had 19 second half points and 28 on the evening as the Knights tried to mount a comeback, but were ultimately unable to.

"It was a great game. I thought both teams played at a high level," said head coach Johnny Dawkins. "I thought Davis and Williams both were outstanding players tonight. I mean, you see why they both first team all-conference players, see why they're two of the better players in the nation. I thought at times they really just stepped up and made huge plays when their team needed it. But I thought our guys, I was really proud of our guys. I thought our guys played hard the entire game as well. I thought C.J. did a great job of leading our team and we were right there at the end.  It's a one, two possession game coming down the stretch like it has been pretty much every game that we've played 'em and we just came up a little short."

The two sides traded short scoring bursts at the start of the contest. The Knights took an early 12-9 lead which turned to 14-11 on a Taylor Hendricks slam seven minutes into the game.
Memphis' Kendric Davis put the Tigers in front 16-15 with a fastbreak three. He had half of Memphis' points after the bucket.

The Tigers pieced together a 6-0 run to go up 22-17 with 11 minutes gone by in the first. The Knights had four turnovers in a span of 3:25 of gameplay that Memphis built off.

The Knights trimmed the deficit to 22-19, but saw the Tigers go on an 18-11 run to finish the half. Memphis' Davis and DeAndre Williams combined for 30 of their team's points as UCF trailed 40-30 at the break. The Tigers outshot the Black and Gold in the first half, shooting 50% to the Knights' 40%. UCF had the edge on the boards, outrebounding the opposition 22-13, including a seven to two edge in offensive rebounds.

The Black and Gold's defense was as tough as a brick wall to begin the second half, not allowing Memphis to score for the first four minutes. Darius Johnson had the first four points of the half, cutting the Memphis lead to 40-34.

UCF slowly started to work its way back into the contest. The defense continued to give the Knights chances on the other end. An Ithiel Horton three pointer followed by another from Johnson tied the game at 47-47 with 12:22 to go in the second.

Memphis made a layup on the next possession. Kelly drove down the floor and was fouled from beyond the three-point arc. He sunk the trio of free throws, putting UCF back in front 50-49. It was the Knights' final lead of the ballgame.

The Tiger lead never stretched to more than seven in the remaining 11 minutes of gameplay. The closest UCF got to retaking the lead again was with 7:11 remaining after a pair of Michael Durr free throws, making it 62-61.

UCF continued to battle down the stretch but couldn't pull back in front. Memphis' Williams and Davis finished the contest accounting for 68 of the Tigers' 81 points in the 81-76 final.

Kelly finished the evening with 28 points, including 19 in the second half. Johnson finished with 15 points while Horton and Durr finished with 10 points each. Hendricks was the team's leading rebounder with nine and finished with five points.

The Knights out-rebounded Memphis 42-27, their most boards since Jan. 14 at Tulane. UCF's postseason run ends with another single digit loss. Of the 14 losses on the year, 12 were by single digits and six were by a single possession.

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