Despite a hard-fought battle, the UCF Knights could not hold off the Memphis Tigers’ second-half push and fell short of improving their conference record Wednesday as they were defeated by the Tigers 59-57 at Addition Financial Arena.
In the first half, the Knights bested the Tigers and led for over fourteen minutes.
This was due in large part to the strong performance from redshirt junior forward Colin Smith who took over with 10 points, including two back to back buckets late in the half.
UCF’s early first-half lead also came from its ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. The Tigers committed nine fouls and the Knights capitalized making 8 of 11 eleven shots from the charity stripe.
The second half was a different story as Memphis got hot from the field scoring 58% of their shots. This, along with the Knights’ inability to score efficiently from the three, is what led the Tigers to pull away late in the matchup.
UCF freshman guard Darin Green Jr. made two plays that gave the Knights life late in the half with a steal and score, and then a late three to cut the Memphis lead down to two.
The freshman was too little too late as Tigers freshman forward Malcolm Dandridge scored the dagger with a tough layup.
With the loss, the Knights fall to 2-6 in American Athletic Conference play and 11-9 overall, while Memphis improves to 4-3 in AAC play and 15-5 overall.
The Knights look to get back in the winning column — and improve their War on I4 record to 10 straight wins against — as they travel to Tampa to face the USF Bulls on Saturday.
The Knights’ last beat the Bulls 55-54 in a defensive battle on Jan. 18 at Addition Financial Arena.
UCF men’s basketball will face USF at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Yuengling Center in Tampa, with coverage on ESPNU and FM 96.9 The Game.