It marked the first win for the Knights over the Huskies since 2011 and just the second ever in the all-time series between the two teams.
“We talked about having to max out, not pace ourselves now that we are getting healthier and I thought our guys played that way,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I thought we played with a lot of energy for all 40 minutes. We beat a good UConn team.”
UCF (14-7, 5-4) moved back above the .500 mark in league play before another big home matchup this weekend. The Knights will host Houston in their only meeting with the Cougars this season, Saturday at noon.
On Wednesday, it was Taylor once again that led the way. The all-conference point guard scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and had two assists and one steal in the victory.
When UConn (11-11, 4-5) came back to tie the game at 50-50 with 6:25 to play, it was Taylor who stepped up. The Orlando native scored eight of his 20 points in the final six minutes, as an 11-4 run gave the Knights a seven-point lead with just over one minute left.
“We have a player that we can go to that’s a proven player down the stretch, who makes those type of plays,” Dawkins said of Taylor. “That’s always good because the other players can play off of a guy like that and that’s what our guys are doing.”
The Knights struggled from the free throw line in the game, going 21-of-34, but in the final moments, multiple players stepped up to the line under pressure and knocked down a pair. Taylor, Ceasar DeJesusand A.J. Davis each went 2-for-2 from the stripe in the final 30 seconds.
UCF, which has stepped up offensively in its last three games, again showed improvements on Wednesday. The Knights shot 46.8 percent from the field and put four players in double figures.
“Our chemistry is getting better, guys are starting to understand how we have to play to be successful now. We’ve had to kind of tweak what we were doing at the beginning of the season both offensively and defensively and our guys are adjusting,” Dawkins said. “That last five or six minutes I thought execution was really really good and our guys got the things we wanted on both sides of the ball.”
Dayon Griffin finished with 12 points, while Davis and Chad Brown also chipped in with 10. Griffin and Brown also stepped up on the glass in place of the injured Tacko Fall, grabbing eight boards apiece.
“I definitely think every game that the chemistry is growing and getting better,” Taylor said. “With me being back out there and implemented into the five, the chemistry is starting to come together. We play our best when we play unselfishly, and we move the ball like we did tonight. We can be very dynamic offensively and hard for teams to guard when we play together, move the ball, and stay aggressive looking for our shots.”
UCF will next host Houston on Saturday, Feb. 3. The Knights and the Cougars will tip off at noon inside CFE Arena on ESPNU.