UCF Men’s Basketball advances to NIT Quarterfinals

Courtesy UCF Athletics Communications

Despite trailing by 13 at halftime and allowing its opponent to hit 10 threes, the No. 4 seeded UCF Men’s Basketball team is moving on to the quarterfinals of the NIT after defeating No. 1 seeded Illinois State 63-62.

Sophomore guard BJ Taylor sealed the win for UCF late in the game, knocking down two free throws with one second remaining to give the Knights the lead. Taylor made all 11 of his free throw attempts in the game, finishing with 22 points and five assists.

UCF looked outmatched early on as Illinois State jumped out to a 14-1 lead thanks to a barrage of threes. But the Knights fought their way back into the game, using a 40-point second half to take down the Redbirds. Redshirt senior guard Matt Williams was key for UCF, scoring 15 points and making five of his nine three point attempts.

After winning just 12 games last season, UCF has had a great year under new coach Johnny Dawkins. The Knights won 23 games, made it to the American Conference semifinals and are now just two wins away from playing in the NIT Championship game.

UCF will return home to play either Boise State or Illinois on Wednesday.

Christian Simmons is the assistant sports editor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow him on Twitter at @By CASimmons, and you can email him at ChristianS@centralfloridafocus.com.