Emotions were high at CFE Arena as the No. 25 ranked UCF men's basketball team notched a 58-55 win over the No. 20 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats on Thursday night.
With the game knotted up at 55 in the final minutes of the game, redshirt senior guard B.J. Taylor made the most of his senior night with scores on two consecutive possessions to seal the victory.
Taylor ended the game with a game-high 22 points on 8-19 shooting.
“I was just going a possession at a time and just trying to do what it took to win us the game,” Taylor said.
The intense and emotional environment of senior night brought Knight Nation to the arena in droves, leading to the highest attendance at a basketball game this season, according to UCF Athletics.
“What a game, what an environment,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “The atmosphere here was electric. The students came out, our community came here, and I don’t think we win the game if they don’t.”
Taylor led a group of four seniors who played their final home games as UCF Knights.
Senior center Tacko Fall was one of those playing his final game at CFE Arena. Fall logged 24 minutes and scored 10 points in the win.
It was an emotional night for Fall, whose mother flew from Senegal to see him for the first time in seven years.
“It was indescribable,” Fall said. “I felt like I was dreaming.”
Seniors Chad Brown and Dayon Griffin also donned the black and gold for the last time in Orlando.
Brown blocked three shots, grabbed a clutch rebound down the stretch and scored the final point of the game to put UCF up three with 11 seconds to play.
Griffin tallied seven points off the bench in 23 minutes.
Junior guards Terrell Allen and Frank Bertz complemented the seniors well with scrappy play and hustle.
Allen's main contributions came on the defensive end, holding Bearcats leading scorer Jarron Cumberland to just 10 points on 5-18 shooting.
Bertz played key minutes down the stretch in place of second-leading scorer Aubrey Dawkins, who left the game around the 8-minute mark with a tight back.
For the Bearcats, junior forward Tre Scott led the team with 20 points and nine rebounds.
The victory gives the Knights 23 wins for the season, setting a new program record for wins in a regular season in Division I.
The Knights will travel to Philadelphia to conclude the regular season against the Temple Owls on Saturday. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.