The UCF Men’s Basketball team beat USF 72-57 Wednesday night, sweeping the War on I-4 season series and extending its win streak against the Bulls to six.
With Jermaine Taylor and Matt Williams in attendance, two of the best scorers in school history, the Knights had one of their best offensive performances of the season.
“It’s just good energy, we fed off Matt’s energy,” senior A.J. Davis said. “We took his powers.”
The Knights shot 52 percent in the game, including a season high 9-18 from beyond the three-point line. They also improved their turnover game, committing just seven, and made 79 percent of their free throws.
“We had some really good looks, and our guys really stepped up and knocked them down,” coach Johnny Dawkins said.
After heading into the first media timeout up just 8-5, Davis, and redshirt juniors B.J. Taylor and Dayon Griffin combined to score 15 of the Knights next 17 points, giving them a 25-14 lead midway through the first half.
The UCF offense slowed down over the final 10 minutes of the first half, and they had a hard time guarding USF in the post, as UCF’s lead was cut to 33-27 by halftime.
Davis and Taylor continued their hot shooting in the second half, as the teams traded buckets.
The Bulls would cut the Knights’ lead to just two after the first media timeout, but that is as close as they would get for the rest of the game.
“We were able to get control of the game in the second half, mostly because of how we defended,” Dawkins said.
The Knights turned up their defense and their three-point shooting as the lead would grow to as much as 17.
After missing the first matchup with the Bulls due to injury, Davis had a huge game. Davis led the Knights with a career high 26 points and nine rebounds. He is now 18-22 from the field and is averaging 23 points over the last two games.
“I thought A.J was terrific,” said Dawkins. “A.J. had one of the best nights that he’s ever had here, with me coaching him.”
Taylor, who carried the Knights against the Bulls in January, had 21 points and six assists in 36 minutes. This comes on the back of playing 36 minutes against Memphis earlier this week, despite not being 100 percent healthy from his foot fracture.
“I’ll get my treatment tomorrow and continue the process of being as healthy as possible,” Taylor said. “When I’m out there, I’m competing. I don’t think about it too much.”
Griffin also finished with 12, as the trio of Davis, Taylor and Griffin scored 59 of the Knights 72 points.
The Knights are in a similar spot that they were in last season, when they won five in a row heading into the postseason. They have a tough stretch of games to finish the season again this year, including three games against teams in front of them in the AAC standings.
“I feel like we came together during that time last year and its kind of coming together again this year,” Davis said. “We’re playing good basketball going into the final stretch and I think that’s all we can look at, is trying to play good basketball and keep on winning games.”
That stretch begins this Saturday, as the Knights play SMU at the CFE Arena.