The UCF Knights were defeated by the Cincinnati Bearcats 68-54 at Addition Financial Arena on Jan. 11, 2020. Photo by Terrance Coakley.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.