UCF Holds On To Advance To The Second Round Of The NIT Tournament
The UCF Knights was able to hold off Colorado after a late comeback and a ton of missed free throws by the final score of 79-74 to advance to the second round of the NIT tournament.
The Knights were up by as many as 13 with about 1:26 remaining in the game and then Colorado hit a three, which then preceded with two missed free throws by Nick Banyard, then another three by Colorado. The Knights missed a total of seven free throws in that span, and almost cost them the game. The Knights missed 15 free throws for the entire game.
“I’m confident in the guys that we had go to the line,” UCF Knights head Coach Johnny Dawkins said. “When that happens, you have to live with it. I trust our guys. I believe in them and so I’m trying to make sure our guys don’t get to up or too down. You miss one, you miss two, it’s part of the game. Just go on to the next play, make a play for us defensively.”
In the first half, the Knights got off to a very hot start. They were getting their way when Matt Williams was on fire. Matt had 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the game including a sequence when Williams scored five straight by pulling up and shooting in their faces. Just flat out disrespecting them like it’s no big deal.
Then after the timeout, Colorado started to get their game together by going on a seven point lead to cut the lead to five. During that span, the Knights turned the ball over a couple of times. The game went back and forth for the rest of the half and Colorado hit a three at the buzzer to end the half and get their deficit back to four at the half with the score of 38-34.
In the second half, the Knights started off cool but then put it to high gear and then BJ took over the game by scoring 18 straight for himself.
Then he got the crowd out of the feet by putting Josh Fortune on skates and broke his ankles and put him on the floor to get the lay-up. It was so nasty, the game had to be stopped! It was that bad. Taylor talks about that nasty cross over after the game.
“I mean, the dude went down,” Taylor said. “I just had to finish. We kind of spaced the floor out and kind of doing a lot of switching so whenever I got a guy in front of me like that, I know I can take him off the dribble, I know I can take him off the bounce, that’s a strength of mine. I made a good move and he went down.”
That wasn’t the only move that he did, toward the end of the game, Taylor had the ball in his hands in the right corner and gave the defender the sauce, too much sauce, stepped back and knocked down the three in the defender’s eye.
Another player who stood out was AJ Davis. Davis had his best game of the season as he was active on both ends. He had 17 points, and eight rebounds and was playing his heart out on the defensive side of the ball.
“What a day! AJ saved one of his best games of the season for postseason,” Dawkins said. “He had a great game today and not because of the points he scored, I thought it was his best all around game. He’s always giving us the energy defensively, makes plays, he rebounds the basketball but he did so many more things for us. He ran the point for us some and made really good decisions with the ball in plays. He was talking to his teammates and making sure they were in the right place. He was really engaged and I was really happy to see his overall game, probably his best overall game this season.”
With the win, the Knights will head back on the road and will go up against Illinois State in the second round of the NIT with the game most likely being played on Monday.