Knights strike gold in Cal­i­for­nia with de­fense

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Brian Mur­phy

Johnny Dawkins couldn’t wait to show his team what it had just ac­com­plished on the other end of the coun­try.

The Knights (5-2) con­cluded their three-game visit to Cal­i­for­nia last week­end with a 76-55 vic­tory over the Charleston Cougars in the Wooden Legacy tour­na­ment.

In that win, the Knights de­fense lim­ited Charleston to just 37.3% shoot­ing, a sea­son low for any UCF op­po­nent. Dawkins wants his play­ers to re­al­ize just how suc­cess­ful the Knights can be when they are locked in on de­fense.

“I thought it was one of our best de­fen­sive ef­forts this year,” Dawkins said Fri­day. “I re­ally wanted to kind of em­pha­size that our ex­e­cu­tion of­fen­sively was good, but our de­fen­sive ex­e­cu­tion was ter­rific.”

That de­fense will be put to the test again Satur­day, when UCF hosts the New Jer­sey In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy High­landers (2-6). Tipoff is sched­uled for noon at Ad­di­tion Fi­nan­cial Arena.

Al­though NJIT ranks at or near No. 300 among the 350 Divi­sion I teams in field-goal per­cent­age and scor­ing offense, the Knights must al­ways ac­count for guard Zach Cooks.

The 5-foot-9 dy­namo is av­er­ag­ing 23.3 points per game —

COUR­TESY OF UCF ATH­LET­ICS

UCF for­ward Collin Smith is the Knights’ lead­ing scorer this sea­son as he is av­er­ag­ing 15.4 points per game.

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