Balanced Knights bounce right back
Red-hot Dawkins scores season-high 26 to spark win against Mustangs
UCF was frustrated and disappointed by a 77-68 loss to then-No. 12 Houston Thursday.
“We came out tight, not making plays that we normally make,” Knights senior point guard B.J. Taylor said after the loss. “The message for us is there is no need for us to come out tight.”
UCF embraced that message, bouncing back with a 71-65 win at SMU Sunday.
Aubrey Dawkins snapped out of a minislump and scored a seasonhigh 26 points, shooting 9-of-12 overall and 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
“I thought we did a lot of things right,” UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said after the game. “I thought offensively we moved the ball well. It was evident by 16 assists. We defended well when we had to.”
Collin Smith added 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists for UCF (17-5, 7-3 American Athletic Conference) while Tacko Fall added 10 points.
“After last game, he bounced back as about as good as you can,” Dawkins said of Smith. “He was terrific. He carried us during stretches of the second half. I look at the rebounds, I look at his assist numbers. He was terrific.”
Taylor, who normally leads UCF with 17.1 points per game, chipped in eight points and seven assists. He focused on setting up his teammates while facing heavy defensive pressure from the Mustangs.
“He played a great floor game,” Dawkins said of Taylor. “They try to take things away from you and he’s our biggest weapon, so they want to take him away. When that happens, and you’re a point guard, you need to make the guys around you better.”
Jimmy Whitt Jr. scored a career-high 23 points for the Mustangs (12-11, 4-7), whose losing streak stretched to four games. Isiaha Mike added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Ethan Chargois had 11 points.
UCF returns home to host rival USF on Wednesday. The school is taking a friendly jab at the Bulls, hosting South Floridian night with a theme that celebrates those who hail from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — the real South Florida.
The game will feature South Florida-inspired concessions and music. The in-game promotions will include a cinnamonroll eating contest, a Cuban coffee flip cup and the Swap Shop Shuffle.
UCF senior guard Aubrey Dawkins helped power the Knights to a 71-65 win over SMU on Sunday.