ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – B.J. Taylor scored a game high 20 points, but the UCF men’s basketball team fell to no. 21 Houston 84-56 in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Aaron’s American Athletic Conference Championship on Friday at the Amway Center.
“I thought our guys, as always, competed, gave a winning effort,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I just thought it was hard to sustain that for 40 minutes at the level they were and at the pace they were playing.”
The sixth seeded Knights (19-13) couldn’t put together enough firepower on offense, shooting 33.3 percent from the field, and struggled to stop the smoldering Cougar attack, as third seeded Houston (25-6) shot 57.9 percent from the floor for the game.
The Cougars, who will likely earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament if they don’t win this weekend’s championship, have won nine of their last 10, which includes a victory over top seeded Cincinnati back on Feb. 15.
Even though the Knights trailed 40-27 at halftime, it wasn’t until Corey Davis Jr. gave Houston a 19-point lead on one of his two threes on the night, that it was truly out of reach for UCF. With 4:24 to play in the game, the Cougars cruised to the 84-56 victory and advanced to Saturday’s semifinal against Wichita State.
With foul trouble for both A.J. Davis and Chad Brown, Taylor took it upon himself to try to keep the Knights in the game. The junior point guard scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half and connected on three daggers from beyond the arc.
“I just wanted to lay it all on the line for my team,” Taylor said. “In that second half it was the last 20 minutes to try to make the NCAA Tournament, so that’s the only thing that was going through my mind. Just to leave it all out there on the floor for my team and my brothers.”
Houston was led by Galen Robinson Jr. and Rob Gray, who finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Devin Davis added 16 points and seven boards, while Davis and Armoni Brooks each finished with 10 points in the win.
UCF, which has a record of 19-13, will now await its postseason fate. The NCAA and NIT selections will be announced Sunday.
“I’m just really proud of these guys,” Dawkins said. “I loved coaching this team because every night they gave us a winning effort, and that’s what you want to see from your players. Results may not have always been what we wanted, but the effort was always there, and the intent was always the right intent, and that was to represent our university a the highest level on the court.”
RENEW FOR 2018-19
Before the end of the 2017-18 season, renew your tickets for 2018-19 today! This year’s deadline for renewal is April 16. Fans are encouraged to renew their UCF Basketball tickets today by calling (407) 823-1000 (Option 2) or visiting UCFKnights.com.