Men's Hoops' Season Ends in NIT Second Round

Stats (PDF)

EUGENE, Ore. – The UCF men's basketball team saw its NIT run come to an end in the second round with a 68-54 loss to Oregon in the first meeting between the programs in their histories.

"Give them a lot of credit, their length definitely bothered us," said head coach Johnny Dawkins. "When we were making shots, we were fine, but when we started missing it made it difficult as they were able to take advantage on the other end."

The Knights got out to a 15-9 start through the first 10 minutes of play. C.J. Kelly had five points during the spurt prior to Oregon calling a timeout.

The Ducks took control from there, going on a 22-9 run the rest of the first half. The Knights finished the half shooting 29% from the field and 23.5% from the three-point line. Kelly led the Black and Gold in scoring through the first 20 minutes with nine points. Oregon shot 48.1% from the field in the first.

Kelly had a moment of brilliance with 4:10 left in the first half, earning a steal near midcourt and finishing with a layup. On the inbound, Kelly faked as if he was walking away, but snapped back for his second steal in as many seconds and finished with another layup. The surge from Kelly brought UCF back within one at 23-22. After an Oregon timeout, the Ducks finished the half on a 10-2 run.

The Ducks began the second half with a 16-10 run, putting them up 15. The Oregon lead swelled to as many as 21 with 12:11 to go in the game at 51-30.

The Knights were able to cut the Duck lead down to 13 with 7:11 left after a Brandon Suggs layup to make it 53-40. An Oregon three-pointer, layup and two free throws over the next 3:30 of gameplay paired with no UCF makes put the deficit back at 20 at 60-40 with just under five minutes to play.

Even then, the Knights didn't go down without a fight, cutting it back to a 14-point deficit with 3:20 to go. Another made three and a free throw put the final seal on the game as the Black and Gold fell by a final of 68-54. The 14-point Oregon win was UCF's largest margin of defeat this season.

The Knights posted their lowest three-point percentage of the season, going 5-for-30 from beyond the arc, a 16.7% clip. The 30.6% mark from the field was the second worst of the season, behind only the 30.5% rate against Oklahoma State, a game in which the Knights went down 17 points in the first but rallied back to win in overtime.

"I thought we had some good looks that we just didn't hit," said Dawkins. "Then I feel like we started pressing and forced a few shots because we were trying to play catch-up. They feed off of that, they get to run out on a bad shot and start their transition, so that hurt us some."

Kelly led the way on offense, scoring 13 points. Taylor Hendricks and Suggs finished behind Kelly with nine each. Hendricks pulled in a team-high nine rebounds. Kelly's six steals on the night were the most by any UCF player in the NIT and also doubled as a career high.

Michael Durr picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of gameplay, causing the Black and Gold to go to their bench early. He wound up fouling out later in the game after playing in nine minutes.

Twenty of UCF's 54 points came off 18 created turnovers. It was the second straight game that the Knights forced 18 turnovers, forcing the same amount against the Gators in the first round of the NIT.

The Knights now fall to 4-3 all-time in the NIT and 4-2 during the Dawkins era. It was the second of their three total NIT appearances that they won at least one game in the postseason.

UCF ends the season with an overall record of 19-15 and its third postseason berth in seven seasons under the direction of Dawkins.

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