UCF vs. Alabama (mbb)

UCF redshirt senior guard B.J. Taylor (1) avoids a defender and drives the ball to the hoop as the Knights take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at the CFE Arena on Thursday, Nov. 29. The Knights defeated the Crimson Tide 70-64.

B.J. Taylor caught fire in the second half of the Thursday game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, as the Knights won their fifth straight game 70-64.

The senior guard got hot after halftime, hitting back-to-back threes midway through the second half and kicking the Knights into second gear.

Taylor had 15 points in the second half and 24 points for the game, along with two assists and one steal.

“We got the ball in [B.J. Taylor's] hands in some good situations, and he took advantage of it and that’s what he does,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I was really happy for him because I thought his whole game today was really good from start to finish.”

Taylor said it was a good win for the program and resume builder as the Knights move closer toward the NCAA Men's Division I Tournament.

“[Alabama is] a really good team out of the Southeastern Conference, so we’re just really happy to get the win,” Taylor said. “A lot of people wanted Bama and we got them in basketball.”

UCF opened with a 15-4 run in the first nine minutes of the game. One play that stood out during the run was made by junior guard Frank Bertz.

While redshirt junior guard Terrell Allen drove past his defender on the wing after a screen set by senior forward Chad Brown, Bertz simultaneously made a backdoor cut to the right corner. Allen got him the ball and Bertz drilled the three.

As the Knights were up 25-13 late in the first half, Alabama went on 12-4 run and cut UCF's lead to 29-24 at halftime.

Alabama continued that run into the second half, building it to 23-9 and gaining its first lead of the contest 36-34 with just over 16 minutes left in the game.

After the game, Johnny Dawkins said the team learned from their only loss this season to the FAU Owls earlier this month, when they lost the lead late in the second half.

“Our guys understand that no lead is too big in college basketball and that you have to stay locked in, stay focused for the full 40 minutes,” Johnny Dawkins said. “I think it was good for us because we’ve been in that situation now several more times and our guys have done a good job of responding and maintaining leads when we were able to get them.”

The team performed well overall at the free-throw line during Thursday's game. UCF came in shooting 56 percent from the line this season and shot 64 percent against Alabama. Both Taylor and redshirt junior guard Aubrey Dawkins combined for 19-for-21 from the free-throw line.

“We haven’t necessarily shot the free-throw well this year, so I think that’s a good sign for us,” Aubrey Dawkins said. “It’s a free-point. We shouldn’t be giving those up."

Aubrey Dawkins had the second most points in the game, with 16 points to go along with two rebounds, three assists and two steals.

The Knights will have a couple of days off before they hit the road to take on the Missouri Tigers on Sunday at the Mizzou Arena with a tipoff at 3 p.m.

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