Tacko near dunk

Senior center Tacko Fall prepares to leap up for the dunk against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The Knights won by a final score of 64-62 on Jan. 19 at the CFE Arena. 

The UCF men's basketball team overcame a 15-point deficit against American Athletic Conference foe the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to win by a final score of 64-62 Saturday afternoon.

Senior guard BJ Taylor made one of two free throws to give the Knights a two-point lead in the final seconds.

Tulsa attempted to tie the game up in the final seconds only to lose control of the ball as time expired.

At the beginning of the game, the Knights (14-3, 4-1 AAC) struggled to score against Tulsa’s (12-7, 2-4 AAC) 3-2 matchup zone defense.

The Knights shot only 28 percent from the court in the first half and 14 percent from the three-point line. Tulsa went on a 17-0 run after the Knights scored the first six points of the game. Tulsa had a 15-point lead with 5:11 left to go in the first half. 

“I didn’t think we got settled in because shots aren’t usually coming from where you’re typically getting your shots from,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “That’s a credit to [Tulsa]. That’s why they play [matchup zone defense]. They’re one of the most unusual defenses in our conference.”

UCF redshirt junior guard Aubrey Dawkins and senior center Tacko Fall were the only two players for the Knights to score a basket in the first 15 minutes of action. Only four Knights scored in the first half as they trailed 32-23.

The second half was a different story—the Knights got out of the gates strong. They went on a 12-6 run to cut the lead to three and eventually regained the lead for the first time since leading 6-0 in the first half after senior forward Chad Brown hit a shot off the backboard.

After shooting only 28 percent from the floor in the first half and scoring eight points in the paint, the Knights improved their shooting percentage to 50 percent in the second half and doubled their points in the paint to 16.

Dawkins said the key to turning the game around offensively in the second half was getting the ball inside more and taking advantage of the size difference.

“I think we kept going inside and we just kept going until it finally really worked out for us, and I think that emphasis of playing inside out paid off especially late in the game,” he said.

Another milestone was reached during today's game against Tulsa.

Taylor had 15 points, which put him in the top 10 of the all-time scorers list in Knights basketball history.

“The milestone is cool,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know that but yeah, just really happy we got the win tonight and hopefully we can get more moving forward.”

Redshirt sophomore forward Collin Smith had a big second half after struggling to find rhythm in the first. He scored all of his 13 points in the second half, while adding four rebounds and three assists.

“The first half I was forcing a lot of things, trying to make things happen that weren’t there,” Smith said. “I feel like in the second half when coach [Dawkins] sat me down to kind of calm down and got back to my real self and just started taking my time down on the post.”

Four players scored double figures for the Knights, including Dawkins and Fall who had 12 points each.

The Knights will look to build upon the momentum when they head back on the road to take on the Tulane Green Wave. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

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