UCF Knights redshirt junior guard Dayon Griffin on the fast break and score versus Memphis at the CFE Arena on Wednesday night. Photo by Christopher Davis.

UCF men’s basketball slips past Memphis for second conference victory

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The UCF Knights men’s basketball team won its second straight American Athletic Conference game versus the Memphis Tigers 65-56 on Wednesday night. 

Memphis held a 22-3 all-time advantage in the series versus UCF, but the Knights won three consecutive games versus the Tigers for the first time in program history.

The Knights’ third conference game of the year versus the Tigers was played in front of an announced crowd of 4,298 at the CFE Arena on UCF’s main campus.

After trailing by four coming out of halftime, the Knights went on a 10-2 run and never trailed again.

With only 3:11 remaining in the game and UCF leading by six, UCF redshirt senior forward A.J. Davis helped secure the victory, dominating all facets of the game.

He penetrated the lane and kicked it inside for an assist, took the ball coast-to-coast for a righty lay-in and ripped down three key rebounds to seal the game.

Davis’ fingerprints were all over as he scored 16 points, game-high 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a rejection.

“I’ve been in a lot of different experiences [and] a lot of different games,” Davis said. “When I was a freshman, those moments felt so fast. Now it’s so slow, [and] I already know what I’m doing; I’m older now.”

UCF redshirt junior guard Dayon Griffin was instrumental in the Knights’ second half resurgence.

The sharpshooter had 13 points, but it was his three steals and tenacious perimeter defense that changed the tide for UCF.

“He [Griffin] was able to step up and do the things that we challenged him to do,” UCF Head Coach Johnny Dawkins said. “He’s one of our scorers, he’s one of our shooters and he’s stepped up and played that way.”

At 13-8, UCF led by five just two and a half minutes into the game, but Memphis went on an 8-0 run to take a 3-point lead.

Thanks to stifling defense, Memphis and UCF led for almost an identical amount of time, leading the game for 9:16 and 9:29 respectively.

The Knights got off to one of their roughest starts of the season in the first half. The team shot just 28 percent, scoring their second lowest point total of 21.

UCF’s defense kept them in the game in the first half, holding Memphis to 32 percent shooting while forcing them into 10 early turnovers.

“We’ve been in a lot of low scoring games, so for us, if it’s a low scoring game, we’re comfortable,” Dawkins said. “When it was a low scoring game, we were fine. We were just trying to find ways to even defend better.”

The Knights will play the Temple Owls at the CFE Arena on UCF’s main campus for their next AAC conference game on Sunday at noon.