PHILADELPHIA – All five Knights starters scored in double figures as the UCF men’s basketball team came back from down 11 points in the second half to win 71-69 at Temple Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center.
“They came out and played with a lot of intensity, a lot of passion,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said of the Owls. “Our guys matched it and I’m happy we came away with the win.”
The victory sets up the Knights for the final home game when they face No. 15 Cincinnati at 3 p.m. Sunday at CFE Arena.
Trailing 33-24 at the break, the Knights (18-10, 9-7 AAC) allowed Temple to increase its lead to 11 points when Obi Enechionyia hit one of his five three-pointers on the night to make it 39-28 just two and a half minutes into the second half.
“We knew we didn’t play our best basketball, especially offensively in the first half,” Dawkins said. “Give them credit. They made a lot of tough mid-range shots, but I just challenged our guys to step it up. We just needed to settle down and run good stuff. I thought our guys did that.”
It looked as though UCF was destined for another road defeat, where five of the Knights’ seven conference losses have occurred. Then B.J. Taylor hit a three. Then Matt Williams made back-to-back threes. Williams connected again from inside the arc and the game was tied 39-39.
“I thought B.J. did a great job. He was big down the stretch for us,” Dawkins said. “Matt really got us started in the second half with his assertiveness. That’s how he has to play. Him doing that really established everyone else.”
The Owls (14-15, 5-11 AAC) eventually took control once again, leading 53-46 midway through the second half, but the Knights continued to battle back.
UCF took its first lead of the second half when senior Nick Banyard scored a pair of jumpers in the paint to make it 65-63 with just 2:28 to play in the game. Trading blow for blow, it was Taylor doing the work for the Knights down the stretch. The point guard scored the final six points for UCF, as the Knights escaped Philly with the two-point victory.
THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT FACTS FROM WEDNESDAY’S WIN
All five UCF starters scored in double figures and all played over 30 minutes
The Knights recorded a season low nine turnovers and only one in the second half
Tacko Fall set a new UCF Division I era record for single-season rebounds
UCF is now 9-7 in league play and currently in fifth place in the AAC standings
UCF will return home to host No. 15 Cincinnati on Sunday. The Knights and the Bearcats are slated to tip-off at 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. It will be Senior Day at CFE Arena, as Matt Williams, Tank Efianayi and Nick Banyard will be honored prior to the tip.
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