Knights keep on rolling
Rebounding better in 7th straight win
It took the UCF men’s basketball team a few tries to finally put away the East Carolina Pirates on Sunday. But unlike in their previous game, the Knights were able to get those extra opportunities when they needed them to secure a 76-65 win.
The victory was UCF’s seventh in a row and pushed its record to 13-2 overall, 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference. ECU fell to 8-8 and 1-3 in the AAC.
Rebounding was a lead focus during the Knights’ bye week, which gave them seven days off following a victory at Connecticut last weekend. Although they won that game by 12, they were shut out on the offensive glass by the Huskies, 17-0.
Versus the Pirates, however, UCF grabbed 16 offensive boards and turned them into 17 points. They created points off an offensive rebound on their second possession of the game — a Tacko Fall dunk — and when they most needed a basket down the stretch.
The Pirates cut UCF’s 20-point lead in the second half down to six with about three minutes remaining. Then, up by nine, the Knights went for the kill. Although 3-point tries from B.J. Taylor and Dayon Griffin missed their mark, each shot was followed up by a rebound that gave the Knights new life. The possession finally concluded when Terrell Allen drained a 3-pointer from the corner.
When asked afterward what he thought about his team’s improvement on the glass, coach Johnny Dawkins kept it short and direct.
“I’m happy,” he said with a laugh full of relief.
Said forward Chad Brown, who was one of three Knights with a teamhigh eight rebounds: “The biggest thing about rebounding is it’s an effort and energy stat. That doesn’t take amazing skills to do; it’s just heart and effort.
“That’s something that we put a stamp on and that’s something that we focused on this week, and we got better today at it. I was proud of our guys to be able to crash the glass and play strong. That’s something that we’ve got to continue to do.”
The Knights kept their winning streak alive and their conference record unblemished.
The Knights will head back out on the road to face the Wichita State Shockers on Wednesday night.
Aubrey Dawkins was asked if there’s one thing he hopes carries over from the day’s triumph to the Knights’ next game. His answer was unsurprising.
“Rebounding,” he said. “Keep doing a good job on that end and I think we’re a tough team to beat.”