ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: UCFKnights.com // Without All-Conference honorees Tacko Fall and B.J. Taylor, the UCF men’s basketball team fought through adversity to win 68-65 over visiting Gardner-Webb Wednesday night and improve to 2-0 on the season.
“That was a good game. You have to give Gardner-Webb all the credit for the way they played,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I thought they were prepared. I thought they played hard. Our guys really stepped up. I think they made enough plays at the end to win and that’s what it’s all about. In the end we found a way to win tonight.”
Taylor, who went down in the second half of the season opener against Mercer, fractured a bone in his foot and it was announced earlier this week that he will likely miss four-to-six weeks of action. With the team leader in scoring and assists from a year ago now sideline, the Knights (2-0) had find a way to fill the void against the Bulldogs (0-3).
In comes Terrell Allen. The transfer from Drexel played 21 minutes as the backup point guard on Friday, but with Taylor out, Allen logged a team high 37 minutes on Wednesday. He stepped up as the team’s floor general, finishing with 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field, dished out a team high three assists, and picked up three steals.
“I thought Terrell was very solid,” Dawkins said. “I thought he made some huge plays for us in the second half especially. He got into the paint, penetrated, and finished. I think he’s going to grow from this game and be better from this experience tonight.”
Allen also hit a pair of free throws late to help seal the victory. The Knights need the shots from the stripe by Allen and Chance McSpadden to withstand a late Gardner-Webb run.
The Knights had built a double-digit lead late in the second half when McSpadden hit two from the line to make it 58-48 with 7:07 to play. A.J. Davis then gave UCF its largest lead of the contest – at 12 – with a layin, but the Bulldogs did not give in.
Gardner-Webb took advantage of UCF miscues with a 13-3 run that got the Bulldogs back within one point with just 34 seconds left to play. That’s when Allen, McSpadden and collective ball handling by the Knights sealed the win.
Davis and Brown record double-doubles to lead the way
- A.J. Davis led UCF with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in the victory.
- It marked the seventh career double-double for the senior and the second straight game with double figures boards.
- Davis’s three blocks also tied a career high.
- Chad Brown, meanwhile, recorded his first career double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career high five blocks.
“(Chad’s) playing really well. He’s been coming in and giving us energy. He’s really been doing a great job protecting our rim, blocking shots, taking charges, and rebounding; all the things that’s required to be successful in that paint. He’s done a terrific job and I hope he continues.” – Johnny Dawkins
Griffin scores eight of his 12 points in second half surge
- Dayon Griffin scored in double figures for the second straight game to start his UCF career, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds on Wednesday.
- Griffin scored eight of his 12 points in the Knights’ 16-3 spurt that gave them a 58-48 lead midway through the second half.
The defense showed improvement, holding Bulldogs to 35.8 percent from the field
After giving up 79 points to Mercer in the first game of the season, the defensive performance on Wednesday night was an improvement. The Knights, who led the nation in field goal percentage a year ago, showed signs of that greatness against the Bulldogs, holding Gardner-Webb to 65 points and 35.8 percent shooting from the floor.
“I thought we defended fairly well in the first half to be quite frank, holding them to 28 points, that was a really good job. Overall they scored 65 points. I was a lot happier with that then the almost 80 points they scored the last game. I’m happy that we are starting to work in the right direction defensively getting back to UCF defense and that’s what we have to get to.” – Johnny Dawkins
The Knights will conclude their three-game homestand to start the year on Saturday. UCF hosts William & Mary at 2 p.m.