"We got some things in transition that really helped us," Knights coach Kirk Speraw said. "It was good for us to have some success against some zones, we struggled with that a little bit. It's good that our guys were able to knock down some perimeter jumpers. Shooting 48% from 3 when we've been struggling from the perimeters is good, shooting 59% overall, the most important line item is the 29 assists, I think that's a great assist number.
It was not all smooth sailing for the Knights, despite the lopsided outcome. Florida Tech showed up and competed, at least for a little while. The Panthers went on a 9-2 run to open the game, as four of their five starters scored. The Knights quickly got back into the game with a barrage of threes from freshman Issac Sosa as UCF went on an 11-1 run. Sosa finished with 11 points in the first half on 4-7 shooting.
"I felt comfortable," said freshman guard Issac Sosa. "I missed my first three shots and I kept shooting and I just trusted my shot. I know I have the green light when I have an open shot, so I wanted to just take advantage of that."
Following the slow start, the extended their advantage incrementally, as the first half lead swelled to double digits, and then a 13-0 run put the Knights up 52-31 at the half. Senior guard Jermaine Taylor led the Knights with 21 points on 9-14 shooting, including three "LeBron-like" dunks that brought the crowd to their feet. The Knights shot 62.5% from the field (20-32) as a team, including 53.8% from the three-point line (7-13), and hit on all five free throw attempts.
UCF's defense was stifling during the first half as they held Florida Tech to just 37.9% from the field (11-29 shooting), 25% from behind the arc (2-8), and forced 14 Panthers turnovers.
"I thought there were times in the first half we played decent defense and did some things," said Knights coach Kirk Speraw.
The Knights and Panthers traded baskets early on after intermission before UCF went on a 15-4 run to put the game on ice midway through the second half. The Knights were able to empty much of their bench and get some valuable minutes for some of their younger guys.
"It's always good to be up a lot and let the freshmen play, because we have like 1000 freshmen," guard Jermaine Taylor joked. "So it's always good to let them come in and get experience, get their feet wet on the court and build up their confidence and hopefully down the road it will help them."
Jermaine Taylor led the Knights with 31 points in just 28 minutes on 12-18 shooting, and Issac Sosa added a career high 22 points on 8-16 shooting. P.J. Gaynor hit double digits as he added 12 points, and led the team with seven rebounds, and 7'4" freshman center Jakub Kusmieruk scored six points, a career high for the "Polish Hammer." Freshman point guard A.J. Rompza was mired in a 1-20 shooting slump entering the game, but broke out in a big way as he recorded a double-double scoring 11 points and dishing out a team high 10 assists.
"I think they all (freshmen) played good," Taylor said. "A.J. Rompza played real good, P.J. Gaynor had a heck of a game, they're getting better, they are."
The Knights have a much more difficult opponent on tap next Saturday as they travel to Jacksonville, FL to take on the nationally ranked Florida Gators.
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