Tacko Fall's career game leads UCF in dominating win over SMU

UCF senior center Tacko Fall (24) and redshirt sophomore Collin Smith (35) attempt to block SMU freshman guard C.J. Wright (13). The Knights dominated the Mustangs 95-48 on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the CFE Arena.

The UCF men’s basketball team had a dominating performance Sunday and defeated Southern Methodist University 95-48 at the CFE Arena.

The Knights got off to a fast 16-0 start against the Mustangs, with UCF's largest lead of the game at 54 points.

"After our last game, they went to the next game with a sense of urgency and focus," UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I think it showed, not just the first four minutes but throughout the game." 

Defense was key for the Knights as SMU shot 25 percent on the floor. The Knights held the Mustangs to 18 points in the first half, SMU's lowest-scoring half all season.

UCF senior center Tacko Fall recorded a first half double-double, his fourth of the season. Fall finished with a career-high 23 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

He became the first player in program history to record a 20-20 game in the Division I era and only the second to grab 20 boards in a game since Paul Reed, who did so in 2001, according to UCF Athletics.

Fall said it was a great feeling recording his historic game.

“It’s great,” Fall said. “I tried to go out there and [play well] every night, but you know [during] different nights, different things can happen. But today I was blessed enough to be able to do that.”

Overall, it was a team effort on both ends of the floor with five Knights in double figures and out-rebounding the Mustangs 58-35.

Dawkins said the Knights came out with defensive mindset that set the tone for the game.

“Right from the tip they followed the game plan,” Dawkins said. “They were locked in defensively that first four minutes. It was amazing. I don't think we've played better in a four-minute span than that four minutes that we played.”

Fall said that the team is capable of having a dominating performance in the final stretch of the season.

“It just shows us the way we need to play and what we can accomplish on the court,” Fall said. “As long as we play the right way [and] for each other, we bring intensity on the defensive end, which is our identity.”

Dawkins said the game was a step forward for Fall's career and he was happy of how well he played.

“Well I've been waiting for that from Tacko,” Dawkins said. “I say that because I challenged Tacko this year going into the season that I wanted to see different 20 rebound games because I think he's capable.”

The win gave the Knights a 10-4 record in the AAC, their best start since joining the league and a second 20-win season in the last three years under Dawkins.

The Knights will take on the USF Bulls next for the War on I-4 rivalry in Tampa on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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