ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF men’s basketball team outscored No. 12 Houston 43-37 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a 15-point first half deficit, as the league-leading Cougars won 77-68 at CFE Arena Thursday night.
“We competed against a very good basketball team,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “As impressed as I was with them on tape, I was even more impressed in person. Their level of execution offensively, how well they move the basketball, and of course they’re a very good defensive team.
Houston (22-1, 9-1) remains tied with Cincinnati for the lead in the American Athletic Conference after taking down the Knights (16-5, 6-3). The Cougars are ranked 12th in the nation in both the AP Top 25 Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
UCF was unable to get into any kind of a rhythm in the first half, shooting just 28.0 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from the free throw line. Houston, on the other hand, shot 48.1 percent from the field and was 9-of-10 from the stripe to build a 40-25 advantage at the break.
“In the first half we dug a hole for ourselves,” Dawkins said. “Give them credit for the way they were playing. It knocked us back. In the second half, we responded and played the way we’re capable of, but when you’re playing a team that is that good, it’s a tough hill to climb.”
The Knights came out and played tough in the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Cougars by six and shooting 55.2 percent from the floor.
BJ Taylor scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the second half to lead the way, but it wasn’t enough. Corey Davis Jr. scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the second to keep the Knights at bay.
Davis was one of three Coogs in double figures, as Armoni Brooks had 14 and Galen Robinson Jr. finished with 12 points, seven assists and just one turnover.
Tacko Fall and Aubrey Dawkins both scored 13 points for the Knights. Fall became the 20th member of UCF’s 1,000-point club with his final basket of the game.
The Knights now face a quick turnaround, heading on the road to play SMU. UCF and the Mustangs tip-off from Dallas on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT on ESPNews.