For just the second time in program history, UCF (15-8, 6-5) topped conference powerhouse Memphis (17-7, 7-4) Saturday night with an impressive 72-57 win, ending a four-game losing streak.
Redshirt sophomore guard B.J. Taylor, redshirt senior Matt Williams and sophomore center Tacko Fall led the Knights.
Going on a 13-0 run to start the game, three-point master Matt Williams, hit three-three-pointers in the first two minutes of the game.
Under head coach Johnny Dawkins, all season the Knights have excelled on defense, holding their opponents to a nation’s best 35.8 field goal percentage. They didn’t do anything different tonight, this time holding the Tigers, who only managed to shoot 30.2 percent.
“The last few games we had gotten away from what was helping us win and that was defense,” Williams said. “Coach Dawkins cleaned it up this week in practice and put us through a lot of defensive drills and made sure we came out tonight defense minded.”
Although the Knights put a strong focus on defense against the Tigers, they seemed to have found their groove on offense as well. Williams, Taylor, Fall, and red-shirt junior forward A.J. Davis all put up double-digit points on the night.
Fall, who in the last few games had found himself in foul trouble, seemed to adjust accordingly Saturday finding the basket for 15 points along with three monster dunks. All week at practice, Dawkins had been working with him on staying mentally tough.
“He told me that I had to learn my value on the court, and that my team needed me. He told me to be smart and to just adjust to anything that came my way.” Fall said.
Up next, UCF travels to No. 14 Cincinnati for another conference matchup on Wednesday at 9 p.m for what could possibly be one of the most important games of the second half of the 2016-17 season.
“It was a big win for us. Not because of the school, but because we gained momentum to start conference playoffs after losing some tough games on the road and we had to rebound from that. I thought our guys did a great job of bouncing back and this will certainly help our overall psych going forward.”
Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow her on Twitter at @sarahekelliher and contact the sports team at EvanA@centralfloridafocus.com.