UCF Looks to Finish Strong before Tournament Play

UCF Getting One Final Tuneup Before Tournament Play

UCF Knights have had an up and down season thus far as they started the season 12-3 but have been 5-7 since that included a four game losing streak and has lost six of the last seven before winning the last two games.

The Knights have a record of 17-10 (8-7 AAC) on the season and is currently in sixth place in the conference. Why is this important you might ask? It’s because the top five teams in the conference get a first round bye when the tournament begins on March 9th in Connecticut.

The Knights need this bye because of their lack of depth which has been a huge reason for the Knights being in such a funk of late. Guys are getting tired due to having to play between 33-40 minutes a game. So the Knights need to get this bye so they can have some much needed rest when the AAC tournament begins and it’ll be one less game they have to play.

The question is, what do the Knights need to do in order to get into the top five in the conference? They need to finish strong, most likely win out by finishing with a 20-10 (11-7 AAC) record.

UCF needs to continue to build on their last two games and that is execute offensively, continue to play stellar defense, avoid any kind of injury, and what may be the biggest of them all, cut the turnovers.

If the Knights continue to turn the ball over, they will not have a chance to get into the top in the AAC conference. In fact, there has been at least 3-4 games this season that cost the Knights to win those games due to turnovers and has made an impact in the standings. They cannot continue to turn the ball over.

Offensively, BJ Taylor needs to take over games quicker if the Knights can’t execute their offensive game plan. Taylor is a force to be reckoned with when he takes over games especially when he drives to the lane and he must do that in order for the Knights to win these next three games.

Also, Tacko Fall needs to stay out of foul trouble and continue to work on his post-game so the floor can open up more for guys like Matt Williams can get more open threes and more likely than not, Williams can have a field day by hitting three after three.

UCF Knights next three games aren’t going to be easy either. They will be on the road twice and at home once. The teams that they are facing are Temple, Cincinnati, and USF. Now even though USF is a rival, they have been flat out awful this year and that’s a game the Knights won’t necessarily have to worry about.

For Temple, the Knights beat them with ease earlier in the season, but Temple won’t go down without a fight and is team the Knights must take seriously.

As for Cincinnati, not only are they best team in the conference, but they are also a top 25 team in the Country. The Knights played them once this year and had a good showing but Cincinnati’s defense proved to be too much for the Knights to handle and couldn’t back. This is easily the toughest game left on the Knights schedule but the one thing that the Knights will have is home court advantage.

We’ll see what the Knights are truly made of when they play these final three games and see if they can finish strong before tournament play begins.

Anthony Abruzzo is a sports writer that covers the UCF Men's Basketball team. He is currently a student at UCF as well.