Knights rally, earn vic­tory on the road

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS MONDAY - Staff and wire re­port

NOR­MAL, Ill. — Bran­don Ma­han’s put-back layup off an of­fen­sive re­bound with 25 sec­onds left helped seal UCF’s 67-65 win over Illi­nois State on Sunday.

Ma­han’s shot made it 66-65, and fol­low­ing a Red­birds time­out, each team ex­changed turnovers. Zach Copeland missed a 3-point at­tempt for Illi­nois State and Keith Fisher III fouled Ma­han, who made 1 of 2 foul shots. Illi­nois State failed to get off a shot at the end.

Collin Smith led UCF (2-1) with 18 points and Ma­han scored 17 with 10 re­bounds. Darin Green Jr. scored 13 and Avery Diggs added 10.

Dedric Boyd led Illi­nois State (2-1) with 22 points on 10-of-15 shoot­ing. Matt Chas­tain scored 12 and Antonio Reeves 11.

The Knights over­came a 34-25 half­time deficit and trailed most of the sec­ond half. Green hit a 3-pointer with 68 sec­onds left for

UCF’s first lead of the half, 64-63. Rey Idowu gave Illi­nois State its last lead with a put-back off his of­fen­sive re­bound before Ma­han’s game win­ner.

“We beat a very good bas­ket­ball team to­day,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I was very im­pressed. I was happy with our guys’ fight. They showed ma­tu­rity and stuck to the game plan, giv­ing us an op­por­tu­nity to win at the end.”

While he wants to the Knights to im­prove their ex­e­cu­tion and break their streak of trail­ing dur­ing ev­ery game so far this sea­son, Dawkins said he is proud of the team’s re­silience.

“I think it says that our guys have big hearts,” he said. “… We’ve been down in ev­ery game that we’ve played. Of course we didn’t win them all. I don’t think we lacked the will to fight. I don’t think we lack the will to keep com­ing back and give us an op­por­tu­nity.”

UCF will host Charleston Satur­day at 2 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN3.com.

SEAN RAY­FORD/AP

UCF coach Johnny Dawkins praised his play­ers for ral­ly­ing for a win over Illi­nois State after trail­ing most of the con­test in Nor­mal, Illi­nois.

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