There’s loud, and then there was the noise inside CFE Arena on Wednesday night.
UCF defeated Illinois 68-58 in the NIT Quarterfinals in front of an announced attendance of 10,011.
It was the largest home crowd in UCF basketball history and the first sellout in the history of CFE Arena.
“Whenever you can get a crowd like this with the energy they provided, it’s one of the best environments I’ve ever been in as a player or a coach,” head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I’m used to yelling out calls, but here you couldn’t do that. It’s very difficult for the opposing team, and that’s what you want to have.”
Wednesday was the final home game for the team, which means it was the final chance for fans to see their Knights in action.
They weren’t missing this.
“We [UCF] got this in the bag,” UCF student Zachary Liebetreu said before the game. “A home game like this with the stadium packed. [There’s going to be] over 10,000 people. We got it.”
The student section, known as the Knightmare, are usually quite raucous.
It was the alumni coming out in droves that made the difference between a run-of-the-mill NCAA basketball environment and the deafening atmosphere that was on display Wednesday.
“The team has been so much better,” UCF alumnus Nathan Polly said. “You see each player, especially like Tacko [Fall], get better during the year and they play really well together.”
The Knights and their fans have been waiting for a night like Wednesday for a long time. It wasn't just a victory for UCF's players and coaches, but it was for all 10,011 screaming voices.
"I was amazed at CFE tonight. The student section was off the charts, and the energy that they gave us was amazing," Dawkins said. "We couldn't have done it without them."