Whenever there’s a 7-foot-6 player on the court, there’s not a lot opposing teams can do. The Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-1) found that out the hard way, as the University of Central Florida (2-0) rolled to an 86-61 victory at TD Arena in the first round of the Gildan Charleston Classic.
The Knights’ first play of the game epitomized how UCF would attack the rest of the way. On their first possession, the Knights found center Tacko Fall positioned deep inside the Bulldogs’ paint for an easy dunk.
Tanksley Efianayi came right back on UCF’s next possession with a post-up of his own on the left block. The senior forward made an inside move for a close-range, turnaround jumper that spurred the Knights to an early 22-7 lead by the 13:22 mark.
Between Fall and Efianayi, both players combined for 13 of the Knights’ 22 points. UCF finished with 48 points inside the paint.
At the 15:21 mark, the Bulldogs climbed within 17 points. That deficit soon shot back up to 20 when redshirt junior point guard B.J. Taylor drained a three-pointer off a Fall assist. From then on, the closest Mississippi State got was within 18 points.
As for other top performers, Taylor recorded a double-double with 17 point, 10 assists and seven rebounds in 35 minutes of play. He shot 5-for-14 from the field, including 1-for-3 from beyond the arc and 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. Nick Banyard recorded a near double-double with eight points and and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Efianayi finished with a career-high 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting, including 2-for-6 from three in 29 minutes of play. He started the game 5-for-5.
Player of the Game: Tacko Fall
The big man showed off his new and improved low-post skills as he went to work from the very first possession. In his double-double effort, Fall finished with 12 rebounds and a game-high, career-high 26 points. He went 13-for-17 from the field but failed to convert any of his four chances at the free-throw line.
At one point in the second half, Fall posted up from the right block and drop-stepped away from the incoming double team to score on a two-handed slam. It was also apparent that UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins wanted to use Fall more in the pick and roll for both scoring opportunities and post-up positioning.
UCF takes on the winner of Boise State University-Virginia Tech on Friday at a to-be-determined time.
Statistics and Starting Lineups
UCF starting lineup: B.J. Taylor (G), Matt Williams (G), Nick Banyard (F), Tanksley Efianayi (F), Tacko Fall (C)
Mississippi State lineup: I.J. Ready (G), Mario Kegler (G), Quinndary Weatherspoon (G), Tyson Carter (G), Aric Holman (F)
|Mississippi State Bulldogs||University of Central Florida|
|Points||Quinndary Weatherspoon (19)||Tacko Fall (26)|
|Rebounds||Quinndary Weatherspoon, Aric Holman (7)||Nick Banyard (13)|
|Assists||Quinndary Weatherspoon, I.J. Ready (4)||B.J. Taylor (10)|
|Blocks||Quinndary Weatherspoon, Aric Holman (1)||Tacko Fall (3)|
|Steals||Mario Kegler, Tyson Carter (2)||B.J. Taylor (2)|
|Turnovers||Mario Kegler (3)||Tanksley Efianayi (5)|
|Minutes||Quinndary Weatherspoon (35)||B.J. Taylor (35)|
|Mississippi State University||61||35||10||3||4||10|
|University of Central Florida||86||49||18||3||4||10|
|Mississippi State University||University of Central Florida|