Sweet Revenge for Knights

The Valparaiso Crusaders were certainly in for a surprise when they faced the UCF Knights for the second time in a little over a month. Valpo handled the Knights with relative ease on November 18th at their place in Indiana, but when the two teams squared off in Orlando Monday night, it was certainly a different story.

UCF handled the visiting Crusaders from the paint and beyond the arc en route to an 85-60 demolition.

"That was a very good bounce back, not only from Saturday but the road trip at Valpo," Knights head coach Kirk Speraw said.

UCF opened the game with a 10-2 run and never trailed. Valpo briefly cut the Knights lead to 17-14 on a pair of Brandon McPherson three-point shots, before the Knights regained control and went on a 14-1 run, led by a long distance barrage by Jermaine Taylor, Issac Sosa, and Chris Baez. The Knights trio of guards combined for 26 points on 9-12 shooting in the first half.

"This time we were a lot better," Jermaine Taylor said. Last time they had us back on our heels a little bit, it was our freshman's first away game, that may have had something to do with it. This game we came out ready and established what we were going to do early."

As cold as the weather was outside, it was no match for the icy shooting by the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders. UCF forced Valpo into 40.7 % shooting (11-27) with seven turnovers in the first half en route to a commanding 44-28 halftime advantage.

UCF shot a blistering 64% in the first half and were led by Jermaine Taylor's 15 points on 5-7 shooting from the field. The team hit on 7 of their 11 shots from behind the arc, as Taylor was 4-5, and Sosa was 2-2. Freshman point guard A.J. Rompza led the team with five assists, and A.J. Tyler, Tony Davis, and Chris Baez each had three rebounds.

The Knights began the second half just as the finished the first half with some more hot shooting and great defense. UCF opened the half with a 15-3 run keyed by an emphatic Tony Davis follow-up dunk that sent the UCF crowd to their feet. Davis then hit a three-point shot the next trip down to extend the Knights lead to 28 points and the rout was on.

The Knights defense was stingy all night long as every Valpo shot was contested. Crusaders leading scorer Urule Igbavboa was held to just 8 points on 3-7 shooting and was a non-factor.

"Our guys executed well and we got back to sound defensive principles and executing what we do defensively and that created some things offensively for us, some easy transitions, but the defense kept them out of sync," Speraw said.

The Knights were smoking from long range as they connected on 13-22 three's. Jermaine Taylor led the team with six shots from distance, as he finished with 21 points which also led the Knights. Taylor led the team in scoring for the ninth time in ten contests. Freshman guard Isaac Sosa added 15 points on 4-5 shooting, and Tony Davis scored seven of his 11 points in the second half, to go along with a team high six rebounds.

"That's what happens if you leave a shooter open," Jermaine Taylor said.

The Knights have a nice break for Christmas, as they return to action next Monday when they host Penn in the UCF Holiday Classic.

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