UCF’s dominant second-half performance won it the War on I-4 as USF men’s basketball fell 75-63 to the Knights for the second time this season. The Bulls are now 0-7 against the top four teams in the AAC.
Leaving the first half up just 36-33, UCF (21-6, 11-4) capitalized on a sluggish Bulls (18-10, 7-8) team to begin the second half with a 14-3 run, which gave them the overall edge after the final buzzer.
USF was slow to respond to the Knights’ offensive surge, only shooting 37 percent from the field in the second half. The Bulls were also lacking in the 3-point department, only making 3-of-13 after the first half.
“None of our game goals were achieved tonight,” said coach Brian Gregory. “I thought we played well in the first half, not as good defensively as I would like, but at the same time [we] executed some stuff offensively, but they responded in the second half defensively.”
Tacko Fall, who led the Knights with 18 points, stands at 7 feet 6 inches and proved to be trouble for the Bulls’ defense. Despite his threat, Gregory was pleased with the way his team handled the senior, who shot 60 percent from the field on Wednesday night.
“He’s hard to guard,” Gregory said. “We just needed to fight him at every chance we could get and I thought our guys did a pretty good job of that … you just gotta get underneath him and shove him out of there as best as you can.”
Freshman Justin Brown was a silver lining against the Knights, scoring 15 points and shooting 100 percent from the field, with over half of his points coming in the second half. Brown also registered 4-5 free throw attempts. The Bulls scored 30 points in the second half, but it was not enough to stop the Knights from coming out on top.
Despite the loss, the Yuengling Center recorded its highest attendance since 2012 with 7,231 attendees, 1,613 of those being students.
Gregory remains positive after the Bulls’ second consecutive loss and hopes to learn from the mistakes as they come.
“If our team three months ago would have played this team tonight, we would’ve not been able to compete with them,” Gregory said. “We’ve improved … at the same time, we’ve got a long way to go.”