The Holy Cross Crusaders (5-10) looked to be outmanned prior to the start, but their slow, methodical style of play ruled the first half. The Crusaders opened the game on an 8-2 run and the Knights didn't pull even until 9:16 remaining in the half. The teams traded baskets and UCF took a narrow 28-24 advantage into halftime.
"I thought they executed their offense about as well as I've seen all year long," Knights head coach Kirk Speraw said of Holy Cross.
In a sloppy first half for the Knights in which they shot just 40% from the field, they had a balanced scoring attack as Jermaine Taylor, Isaac Sosa, and Tony Davis each had eight points. Andrew Keister led the Crusaders with eight points, and Holy Cross shot just 38.5% as a team.
The second half began just as the first half ended, as whenever it looked like UCF was about to take control of the game, the scrappy Holy Cross Crusaders would hit a big shot or make a big defensive stop. The Knights claimed their largest lead at the 11:30 mark when Jermaine Taylor connected on a baseline jumper to give UCF a 44-36 advantage. The Crusaders wouldn't go away as sophomore forward Andrew Keister made a three-point play to pull Holy Cross within five points.
With the game on the line late in the second half, Knights leading scorer Jermaine Taylor began to take over. Taylor keyed a UCF run with a long three-point shot as the shot clock was running out, then the Knights locked down the Crusaders defensively. Knights forward Tony Davis did most of his damage on the offensive end from the free throw line, as he bucketed 14 of his 16 points.
"None of them would fall tonight for some reason, it was just a bad night tonight, they should've been and-one's," Tony Davis said.
Jermaine Taylor finished with 29 points on 11-17 shooting, nearly six over his average that ranks him currently 8th in the nation. 21 of his 29 points came after intermission.
"I just play my game," Taylor said when asked if he pays attention to his national rankings. "I wanted to just let my teammates get confidence moving the ball because I know we're going to need them in the second half."
The Crusaders gave the Knights all they could handle before fading at the end of the game, as UCF finished with a 10-2 run. It was the first really tight game that the Knights have played on this particular home stand. The closeness of this game could help the team as they enter Conference USA play.
"We knew it would be that type of game," Speraw said. They've been playing very well in their last three ball games and coming off a 20-point victory on the road and they got one of their guards back. They're playing with more confidence than they did in the beginning of the year."
UCF (10-4) puts their perfect 8-0 home record on the line as they take on the national runner-up Memphis Tigers (10-3) on Saturday evening.
Knights Remain Perfect at Home
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