b-j-taylor-2
University of Central Florida point guard B.J. Taylor looks to pass the ball into the post during a 77-70 win over the University of Houston at CFE Arena on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Game Recap

Tacko Fall‘s last two games ended in scoreless outings, including the Knights’ first conference loss. But in the Knights’ (13-4, 4-1 in American Athletic Conference) 77-70 win over the Houston Cougars (13-5, 4-2 in AAC), Fall’s fourth and final bucket helped put the game out of reach for the Cougars on Saturday afternoon at CFE Arena.

“That’s a good play for us, whenever we can get a two-man game going between me and Tacko,” Knights point guard B.J. Taylor said after the game. “It puts a lot of pressure on the defense because if I come off, and they stick with me, and Tacko’s open on a lob like he was on that play, that guy sticks with Tacko, and I can drive to the hoop and make plays.

“That’s a good set for us because it puts the defense in a tough position. It’s hard to guard with Tacko rolling and me coming off the screen.”

Tanksley Efianayi‘s two free throws gave the Knights a double-digit lead with less than 4:30 left, making the score 69-59. Houston’s Rob Gray led the comeback effort, contributing four points on consecutive jump shots in an 8-1 Houston run. With the score at 70-67 in favor of the Knights, Taylor picked up his dribble around the right elbow and lobbed a pass to Fall for a buzzer-beating alley-oop.

“They executed what we wanted, to be quite frank,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “Basically, we wanted the ball in B.J.’s hands. We were running offense to take the clock down because that’s such a quick-hitting play for us that I didn’t want to run it to start the possession because it’s probably going to take us five seconds or six seconds… Maybe [if] they ran it two seconds earlier, I would’ve been happier, but, you know what, it worked out.”

Fall’s 10th and 11th points were reviewed and ultimately counted after review.

The Knights jumped out to an early 10-0 lead behind Matt Williams‘ 8-0 solo run. Though, his two fouls in the first half limited him to only nine first-half minutes. He would score only two more points for the rest of the game in 29 total minutes.

“We didn’t want to chance it,” Dawkins said. “We had a good rhythm. They didn’t have the lead, so while that was going on, we figured we’d go ahead and just let it be safe and bring him back in the second half—especially against a team that’s so aggressive attacking the basketball, weaving and trying to drive. They put you in a position where you can foul quite a bit.”

Williams, though, finished with a game-high six assists, which ties his career-high.

Player of the Game: B.J. Taylor

Taylor notched seven of his 20 points from the free-throw line and also knocked down one three-pointer. He also had a team-high two steals, including one in the final 30 seconds of the game. Saturday’s win marked Taylor’s second-highest scoring outing this season. He scored 20 in a win 67-51 win over Seattle University and notched 21 in a 60-40 win over the College of Charleston.

What’s next?

The Knights will host in-state rivals the University of South Florida Bulls on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Shots Falling Again

Before Fall’s past two scoreless games, the sophomore center had only posted zero points in one other game. That was in last season’s loss to the University of Memphis on Jan. 26, 2016. But in Saturday’s win, Fall finished with 11 points on 4-for-4 shooting, including 3-for-5 from the charity stripe. Dawkins took some blame for Fall’s recent lack of involvement in the offense.

“I’ll take some blame for that,” Dawkins said. “I think we didn’t go to him enough, and that’s on me. We should’ve went to him more. And also—I think, as I said before—he wasn’t as assertive as he needs to be to create opportunities for himself. I think that combination kinda led to what he did.

“And people are gonna have different game plans against him. They’re gonna try to figure out, ‘How do we stop this man around that basket?’ And he just has to keep growing his game. When you play five years of basketball—I mean, he hadn’t seen enough stuff yet to really understand how to handle all the different situations that he will know as he continues to go through a season like this.”

Prior to Saturday’s win, Fall was averaging 13.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Scoring

1st Half 2nd Half Final
University of Central Florida 34 43 77
University of Houston 29 41 70

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Team Leaders

University of Central Florida University of Houston
Points B.J. Taylor (20) Rob Gray (28)
Rebounds A.J. Davis (8) Damyean Dotson (8)
Assists Matt Williams (6) Rob Gray (4)
Blocks Tacko Fall (2) Bertrand Nkali (1)
Steals B.J. Taylor (2) Rob Gray, Galen Robinson Jr. (3)
Turnovers B.J. Taylor, A.J. Davis (4) Rob Gray, Galen Robinson Jr. (3)
Minutes A.J. Davis (39) Rob Gray (39)

Team Statistics

Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Turnovers
University of Central Florida 34 12 3 4 20
University of Houston 24 12 1 10 11

Shooting Percentages

University of Central Florida University of Houston
FG% 56.8% 43.8%
3FG% 35.0% 28.6%
FT% 76.9% 72.7%

UCF starting lineup: B.J. Taylor (G), Matt Williams (G), A.J. Davis (F), Tanksley Efianayi (F), Tacko Fall (C)

Houston starting lineup: Wes Vanbeck (G), Damyean Dotson (G), Rob Gray (G), Galen Robinson Jr. (G), Danrad Knowles (F)