It’s been a chaotic year for AAC basketball. Coming into the season, the general assumption was that Memphis was in prime position to run the conference, especially with several Tournament teams from last year likely to take a step back.
But conference play has instead largely been a free-for-all, with every team having dropped at least two league games and half of the teams sitting at 2.5 games or less out of first place going into Sunday. UCF was looking to get in on some of that chaos as the Knights hosted third-place Tulsa.
Donned in sleek specialty Citronaut uniforms, the Knights were hoping to quite literally shoot for the moon and notch a second-straight win to continue its rise out of the bottom tier of the conference.
UCF got the win it needed, posting its best result of the season to date as it easily handled Tulsa for an 83-75 victory.
The Knights got the win thanks to an incredibly impressive stretch of long-range shooting, led by Darin Green. He finished the night with 26 points on 78 percent shooting, including making six of his seven three-point shots. The team made 12 of its 21 attempts from beyond the arc, with five players making at least one three.
Early on, it looked like UCF would once again be outmatched by a conference foe as Tulsa went on a 10-0 run early in the first half. But then the Knights caught fire in one of their most impressive shooting streaks of the season, burying a number of shots from beyond the arc to race out to a 13-2 run of their own.
UCF made a blistering 57 percent of their three point attempts in the first half and were led by the improbable scoring of Green, who made five of his first six shots to collect 14 points before the end of the first half. The Knights made enough mistakes here and there to keep the Golden Hurricane in the game, but still went into halftime with a promising 37-29 lead.
Despite the fast-paced scoring of the first half, the game slowed into a defensive slugfest after halftime, with many possessions ending with free throw attempts and neither team succeeding in developing any kind of rhythm.
But this worked to UCF’s advantage given their lead, making it difficult for Tulsa to establish any runs or meaningfully cut into the deficit.
As the half wore on, the Knights began to look more like their first half selves offensively as the Golden Hurricane continued to struggle on both ends of the court.
UCF did run into trouble closing out Tulsa at the very end of the game, as the Golden Hurricane brought pressure to force a few turnovers and easy baskets. But the Knights held on to earn a second straight win.
UCF will look to make it three straight when the team takes on Wichita State on Thursday.