Close But No Cigar for UCF

Memphis-UCF was billed as a heavyweight fight and through much of the game, it lived up and exceeded all expectations as the Knights matched the superior sized, national power Memphis Tigers. Still, the Knights couldn't find enough offense at the end of the game and fell 73-66 in front of a record crowd of 9,825 at the UCF Arena.

"I told the guys we had great effort and both teams played very hard," Knights head coach Kirk Speraw said.

Neither team could pull ahead in the opening 20 minutes as there were six ties, six lead changes, and the largest margin was just four points. The Knights took the slimmest of margins into halftime 40-39, as freshman point guard A.J. Rompza canned a three-point shot with the clock about to expire.

The Knights front court matched the highly touted Tigers front court as Jermaine Taylor led all scorers with 14 points in the first half on 5-9 shooting, and Tony Davis added nine points and seven rebounds, and senior center Kendrick Zondervan added eight points. Senior forward Robert Dozier led the Tigers with 11 points on 4-6 shooting, and freshman guard Tyreke Evans added 10 points on 4-7 shooting.

UCF did most of their damage in the paint in the first half as they outscored the taller Memphis team 16-8, and outrebounded the Tigers 17-16. Memphis struck big from outside as they connected on 7 of 13 shots from behind the arc (53.8%). Free throw shooting continued to be the Achilles heel of the Tigers as they made just four of their seven attempts (57.1%), and UCF conversely hit on six of eight shots from the charity stripe (75%).

The Knights began the second half on a 4-0 run to take a 44-39 advantage, the biggest of the game. The mini-run caused Memphis head coach John Calipari to call an immediate time out to settle his team down just 58 seconds into the half. The Knights would continue on to a 10-3 run to take an eight point advantage, before Memphis guard Tyreke Evans stopped the bleeding with a runner. The Tigers then went on a 6-0 run to cut the UCF lead to just two points.

With the Knights up 57-53, Memphis went on a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead thanks to three mid-range jumpers by senior guard Antonio Anderson. The Tigers would extend that run to 16-2, and took their biggest lead of the game at the six-minute mark, 67-59. UCF went on a dry spell as they went nearly 12 minutes between field goals.

The Knights had one last run in them as Tony Davis and Jermaine Taylor would hit free throws to cut the lead to five points with two minutes left. Jermaine Taylor's reverse layup cut the lead to just three points with under a minute remaining in the game. Then freshman Tyreke Evans did the Knights in with a jumper in traffic to put Memphis up five and they iced the game on the free throw line.

Jermaine Taylor once again led the Knights in scoring with 24 points, but he was shut down in the second half as he hit just one shot from the field in the final 18 minutes of the game. Tony Davis recorded a double-double, with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

It was a balanced scoring attack for the Tigers as Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier, and Tyreke Evans each scored 15 points.


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