Sweet Revenge: UCF Over USF

The UCF Knights closed the game with a 6-0 run to notch their fourth victory of the season in an absolute thriller at the UCF Arena, 71-62.

"I feel really good," said Knights star guard Jermaine Taylor. It's my senior year and we finally beat them (for the first time since 1994).

In a matchup of stars, USF sophomore guard Dominique Jones came up the brightest on the stat sheet as he scored 31 points on 11-17 shooting while Knights senior guard Jermaine Taylor had 30 points while hitting on 12 of his 20 shots from the field. Although Jones had the higher offensive output, it was Taylor's Knights that took control in the second half and secured the win. Jones was held to just two points in the final seven minutes of the game.

"We just had to give him a little cushion," said Taylor. He's a good player, he's quick, we just had to lock up on him and I think coach just got after us on the sideline and made us want it even more."

The Bulls and Knights were involved in a see-saw affair in the early minutes before the contest became a game of runs. The Bulls pulled in front with an 8-0 run midway through the first half thanks to a couple inside baskets by senior power forward Artis Williams to put USF up 20-13. Following a timeout by Knights coach Kirk Speraw, the UCF team went on a 6-0 run to cut the USF lead to just one. The Bulls then responded with another 8-0 run as senior guard Jesus Verdejo had a couple inside hoops to put the Bulls up 28-19. The Knights closed the first half on a 7-0 run to get back in the game keyed by junior Drew Speraw's three-point shot with just seconds remaining.

Both defenses played well as the Knights shot 39.3% from the field (11-28) in the first half, hit on three of four free throws, and shot just one for seven from behind the arc (14.3%). Senior guard Jermaine Taylor led UCF with 10 points on 5-9 shooting. Center Kendrick Zondervan chipped in with 6 points on three for three shooting, and sophomore forward A.J. Tyler led the team with three rebounds at the half.

USF shot just 10-28 in the first half (35.7%), hit on just one of their six three-point attempts, and connected on just 7 of 12 free throws (58.3%). Sophomore guard Dominique Jones led the Bulls with 11 points on four of six shooting. Jesus Verdejo added six points, and forward Aris Williams led the Bulls with three rebounds at the break.

The Knights took the momentum from Speraw's shot with them back on the court for the second half as they opened with a 7-0 run in the opening minutes to take a 33-28 advantage, their biggest of the game. The Bulls quickly battled back to pull even at 35, as Dominique Jones and Jesus Verdejo hit big shots from the perimeter. The game seesawed for much of the second half until the Knights took control as junior forward Tony Davis hit a three-point shot from the corner.

"Coach just said to shoot the ball with confidence, if it's in rhythm, just knock it down," Davis said. "So I just knew I could knock it down."

Where the Bulls were a one-man show featured around Dominique Jones, the Knights had more help around Jermaine Taylor as junior Tony Davis scored 17 points on five for nine shooting, and added six steals.

"Tony Davis, he did a heck of a job tonight," Taylor said. "Dave Noel and Mike O'Donnell, they're not here any more. It's his time now to step up, he had a good game. It was his first home game since the injury, so I knew he was going to come out with a little extra."

Freshman point guard A.J. Rompza led the team with eight assists, and A.J. Tyler led the Knights with six rebounds.

The Knights defense forced 21 turnovers, and held the Bulls to 41.5% shooting.

"Coach told us to try to pressure him (Jones) because he's the one who gets that team rolling," Knights forward Tony Davis said. "If we can hold him, we can stop everyone else."

The Knights bettered their record to 4-3 and defeated USF for the first time since 1994.

"It was a huge win for us," said Tony Davis. It was the first win against USF in I don't know how long. This was a momentum changer for us, not just for us but for the Orlando community."


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