Game Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – In the latter part of the season, University of Central Florida head coach Johnny Dawkins has talked about playing a complete 40-minute game. In Tuesday night’s rematch with the University of Tulsa, Dawkins and his team got as close as they have been to that goal all season.

“I think it was [the closest we’ve been],” Dawkins said after the game. “I think except for a few—that we always have—a few of those unforced turnovers. I think other than that, I thought our guys really did a good job. They were focused, they made a lot of good plays on both ends of the floor. To hold this team to 53 points in a 40-minute game says a lot.”

The Knights (16-10, 7-7 in American Athletic Conference) defeated the Golden Hurricane (12-13, 6-7 in AAC) 71-53 at CFE Arena Tuesday night in front of an announced Valentine’s Day crowd of 3,528.

UCF held a late 10-point lead with less than six minutes to go. But UCF point guard B.J. Taylor helped push the Knights through the finish line, scoring nine of his 15 total points in a game-closing 13-2 run.

“[Taylor] knows what we want,” Dawkins said. “We want him to be aggressive. He’s a scoring guard, but we want him to pick his spots. At the end of the game, he’s going to have the ball in his hands a lot of times where—whether we’re running the clock down, or we’re gonna end it with a ball screen or something like that… So, in those type games, he’s gonna have probably have higher scoring outbursts toward the end of games than maybe earlier in the game.”

UCF had initially jumped to a 14-10 first-half lead, courtesy of two early three-pointers by forward Nick Banyard. That was followed by a 12-4 run that began at the 9:51 mark. The run started with a three-pointer by redshirt senior Matt Williams, who led the Knights with 10 points at halftime. Forward A.J. Davis followed that with a three of his own. A long Williams two and two Taylor free throws later, the Knights led 26-14.

For a Knights team that lost 77-66 to Tulsa in late January, Tuesday night was about hitting the other team first.

“Really, we hit them first today,” Banyard said after the game. “I think over at their place, we weren’t really locked in. They were hitting us first on every box out. They were making sure to give us hard fouls, no and-1s. We kinda took that upon ourselves to do the exact same thing they did to us.”

Said Davis after the game on Tuesday’s win compared to the January loss: “I just think we had a lot more composure. We stuck together the whole game and kept on playing with each other and kept on staying together as a team. When we were there, we kinda got away from what we were doing, and that kinda hurt us going into the second half.”

Player of the Game: Nick Banyard

Banyard tied his career-high with a game-high 18 points in Tuesday’s win. He shot 5-for-6 from the field, including 4-for-4 from three-point range and 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. He also teased a double-double, tallying nine defensive rebounds.

“Really just sticking with it,” Banyard said. “I go out there and shoot early before every game. I really don’t care too much for my misses. As everybody knows, I air ball a lot, but as long as it feels good, I don’t really care too much about it.”

What’s next?

UCF will travel to face the East Carolina Pirates on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“I expect them to be fired up. They’re at home,” Dawkins said. “And we need to be prepared. They did do a great job defensively versus us the last time we played them here… We need to make sure we execute better offensively.”

ECU held the Knights to a season-low 48 points in a 48-45 UCF win.

Tacko Fall, Matt Williams Progressing

Sophomore center Tacko Fall finished Tuesday’s win as the only start with a single-digit point total. On Monday before practice, Dawkins acknowledged the Golden Hurricane were undersized relative to his team’s conventionally sized team. But for Fall, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks, defense is where Dawkins sees him making the most impact currently.

“It’s okay with where Tacko is with his progression,” Dawkins said. “I like to see Tacko score it more in the low post. I like to see us feed him more when he has his opportunities… So, for Tacko, his biggest presence needs to be on the defensive end of the floor ‘cus that’s something that he can provide every single night.

“He can be the most dominant player in the paint defensively.”

As for Williams, his next step is being able to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop when his three-point shot is taken away, according to Dawkins. In the win over Tulsa, Dawkins saw that more.

“I thought Matt was good,” Dawkins said. “You saw him put the ball on the floor more. You saw him get into the paint, finish more, got in the paint, finished, took little mid-range jump shots. Now people have to think about how you guard him. You can’t just now jam him and figure, ‘Well, I’m jamming him, so now he’s out of the play.’ No, he’s a threat putting the ball on the floor, and I think people will realize that, and that’s going to help his game more as we go forward.”

Tanksley Efianayi Out with Injury

Senior forward Tanksley Efianayi didn’t dress for Tuesday’s rematch with Tulsa. He aggravated knee injuries in Monday’s practice.

“[Efianayi is] [s]till not available,” Dawkins said. “I’m not sure if he’ll be available this weekend or not. It was still kind of a holding pattern to see how his knees feel. If they start to feel better, then, of course, he’ll be able to go. If they don’t, he’ll still be out, but we all have to wait and see.

“But it’s nothing structural where he’ll need some kind of surgery or anything like that. It’s much more like a tendinitis that’s been kinda just bothering him… Until it calms down, we have to just kinda let him wait.”

On the season, Efianayi is averaging a career-high 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Davis recorded his first double-double since tallying 10 points and 11 rebounds in a 77-66 loss to Tulsa earlier this season.
  • The Knights recorded their season-high in blocks with eight. Fall had five of them.
  • Banyard tied his career-high with a season-high and game-high 18 points. He scored 18 against the University of Evansville last season with Illinois State University.
  • Fall tied his season-high in blocks with five. He swatted five shots against Southern Methodist University.
  • Efianayi didn’t dress for Tuesday’s game. His injury doesn’t require surgery, but Dawkins doesn’t know if he will play Saturday.

Scoring

1st Half 2nd Half Final
University of Central Florida 31 40 71
University of Tulsa 27 26 53

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Team Leaders

University of Central Florida University of Tulsa
Points Nick Banyard (18) Martins Igbanu (15)
Rebounds A.J. Davis (11) Junior Etou (7)
Assists A.J. Davis, Nick Banyard, B.J. Taylor, Matt Williams (3) Sterling Taplin, Jaleel Wheeler (4)
Blocks Tacko Fall (5) Martins Igbanu (2)
Steals A.J. Davis, Nick Banyard, B.J. Taylor (1) Pat Birt (3)
Turnovers Matt Williams (4) Sterling Taplin (3)
Minutes B.J. Taylor, Matt Williams (39) Jaleel Wheeler (35)

Team Statistics

Rebounds Assists Blocks Steals Turnovers
University of Central Florida 40 12 8 3 15
University of Tulsa 28 13 2 7 9

Shooting Percentages

University of Central Florida University of Tulsa
FG% 52.3% 29.8%
3FG% 57.9% 34.6%
FT% 66.7% 66.7%

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

Tulsa starting lineup: Corey Henderson Jr. (G), Jaleel Wheeler (G), Sterling Taplin (G), Junior Etou (F), Martins Igbanu (F)

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