Entering his final home game, Matt Williams didn’t think he’d be crowd surfing when it was all said and done. Williams found himself lifted up by hundreds of fan who had rushed the court after UCF won 53-49 upsetting the number 15 team in the nation, the Cincinnati Bearcats.
BJ Taylor led all scorers with 27 points including a step-back three that put the Knights up 51-46 with 33 seconds left in the ballgame. It was a season high for Taylor who played all forty minutes.
“I saw B.J. had it going in the first half and so at that point the main thing is I wanted to make sure that B.J. stayed aggressive and picked his spots,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins.
Tacko Fall added seven points and eight rebounds as the big man hit two free throws to ice the game in the final seconds. Fall finished the game with seven points, eight rebounds and four big blocks.
“It’s the same shot I take on the same court,” Fall said on his clutch free throws. “It was a routine shot.”
It was the defense for the Knights that caused the most problems for the Bearcats. UCF held Cincinnati to 29.2% shooting from the field and only allowing one Bearcat in double figures.
“Give our kids a lot of credit. For forty minutes to battle in that type of game, that type of pressure defensively, it’s to be commended,” said Dawkins.
“That’s what our culture is, playing for each other, “Taylor said. Playing defense the way we played we don’t want to let each other down … we fight for each other on the defensive end because that’s where we hang our hat.”
After leading by three at halftime, UCF went on an 11-0 run during the first 8 minutes of the second half and led by eleven at one point. AJ Davis scored all seven of his points during the stretch which allowed Taylor to do more of the facilitating on offense rather than all of the scoring.
Cincinnati fought back and got within two points in the final minute then Taylor hit the big three and the rest was history. After the game, the student section and the fans rushed the court and the CFE Arena was filled with energy.
“I knew we were up by two and it was about a minute left and when those moments come I embrace those moments,” Taylor said. “That’s why I work so hard in the offseason to prepare for those moments.”
It was the 4th victory against ranked opponents for UCF in program history, the last in 2011 when the Knights won over No.4 UConn.
Although offensively, the three seniors, Williams, Nick Banyard and Tank Efianayi didn’t have huge games, defensively, they made a big impact. Banyard led the team with 10 rebounds.
UCF (19-10, 10-7 AAC) ends the regular season on the road Thursday, March 2nd in Tampa against the USF Bulls. The Knights are currently 4th in the American and look for their 20th win of the season against their rival Thursday evening.