The UCF Knights dropped their fifth game in a row in a 68-54 loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats at Addition Financial Arena on Saturday.
The Knights started the game with a solid first half, outscoring the Bearcats 29-26 with redshirt junior Ceasar DeJesus leading the charge. DeJesus finished the half with 10 points on 71% shooting from the field. Redshirt junior Collin Smith also had a strong half, finishing with nine points and six rebounds.
UCF’s zone defense was the story of the first half of the game. The Knights forced the Bearcats into some tough shots, where Cincinnati only shot 42% from the field, and gave up eight turnovers in the first half.
UCF struggled to respond to Cincinnati’s ability to score off turnovers. In the second half alone, the Bearcats scored 18 points off turnovers compared to the Knights 3 points.
Despite this strong offensive and defensive start to the game, the Knights struggled to score in the second half, shooting 35% from the field, even going eight minutes without scoring a field goal.
Along with the offensive struggles, strong shooting from the Bearcats helped them pull away as they shot close to 57% from the field to close out the game.
Smith and junior guard Brandon Mahan continued to build on their strong first-half performances, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Bearcats. The two combined for 17 points in the second half and 32 points in total.
The Knights fall to 9-7 overall and 0-4 in conference play with the loss, placing them last in the American Athletic Conference.
The Knights will next travel to face the Tulane Green Wave on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in New Orleans.