Men's Hoops Drops Defensive Duel at No. 5 Houston

by Ken Landis

HOUSTON – The UCF men’s basketball team was defeated on the second leg of its Texas trip, falling 57-42 to No. 5 Houston on Saturday afternoon. The contest was destined to be a low-scoring one from the start, as both teams boasted top-40 scoring defenses entering the game. That came into play from the jump, as neither team scored for the first three minutes of action.

“We take pride, same way as Houston, defensively. I thought we defended hard, and for stretches I feel like we defended well too. I thought they defended better than we did but I thought we defended well. At large I think our guys’ energy and effort was there defensively.”

Johnny DawkinsUCF Men's Basketball Head Coach

When the final horn sounded, UCF had held Houston to its second lowest point total of the season, no easy feat against a top-five nationally ranked team. The only lower scoring game for the Cougars was the 53 they scored in a four-point loss at Iowa State. The Knights also held Houston to its second lowest field-goal percentage of the season at 34.5%, just 0.1% from tying the Cougars lowest of 34.4% at Xavier.

Despite UCF’s defense limiting Houston to one of its least productive nights of the season, the Cougars returned the favor, and then some. The Knights made seven field goals in the game, the lowest by any Houston opponent this season. The Black and Gold experienced its lowest first and second half point totals, as well as first and second half field goal percentages, finishing the night shooting 15.9%

The first half did not get out to an ideal start as the Knights missed their first 10 shots from the field, going nearly 10 minutes without a bucket in the run of play. UCF’s first points came seven minutes into the contest as Jaylin Sellers sunk a pair of free throws with 12:56 left in the first. The first basket from the field came from Thierno Sylla with 10:34 to go in the opening half making it 13-5. The Knights found their stride following that bucket, as Sylla’s triple was the first of two he would make on an 8-0 run to get the game back to 13-10 with 7:29 to go. Houston dominated the rest of the way, using a 13-4 run over the final 6:14 of the first, heading to locker room in front of the Knights 28-14.

19 of UCF’s 28 second half-points came from the free throw line, making four baskets from the field in the final 20 minutes. Houston outscored the Knights by just one in the second, collecting 10 of its 29 second half points from the charity stripe. After seeing the Houston lead swell to as many as 25, UCF was able to work it back to 15 at the buzzer.

UCF is back in action at Addition Financial Arena on Tuesday at 7 p.m. as West Virginia takes a trip to Orlando, fresh off a 91-85 victory over No. 3 Kansas. Both the Knights and Mountaineers sit at 2-3 in Big 12 Conference play, two of six teams to post that mark thus far.

Follow UCF men’s basketball on X (@UCF_MBB), Instagram (@UCF.MBB) and Facebook (/UCFMensBasketball).

Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite teams by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android devices. The app provides personalized information for men’s and women’s teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and breaking news. Click here to download the app now.