Knights keep on rolling

Re­bound­ing bet­ter in 7th straight win

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Sports - By Brian Mur­phy Or­lando Sen­tinel Cor­re­spon­dent

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.”

COUR­TESY OF UCF ATH­LET­ICS

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