Welcome to the post where I talk about the UC @ UCF game.
My dear friends, it was not good.
Here we go.
The UCF Knights held on to beat Trevon Scott and the Bearcats by a final score of 58 to 55. The Bearcats fell to 25-5 on the season ahead of their Senior Day tilt against the 12th-ranked Houston Cougars this Sunday.
The game was ugly from the start. The Bearcats came out flat, riding Scott's aggressive approach to an eight-point halftime deficit. Bad calls abounded, but for a team that had overcome a similar deficit when the Knights came to Clifton, I remained optimistic. It was a single-digit game for a team dealing with early foul trouble thanks to [horrific calls linked at the end of this post].
The Bearcats have made winning these games a habit, so we've come to expect a scrappy fight to the finish. We got one. The Bearcats picked away at the UCF lead to open the second half. A Mamoudou Diarra baseline jumper with 6:37 remaining knotted the game at 42 apiece before the Knights lurched to an 8-0 run to take a lead that felt commanding.
Much like the Wichita State game earlier this year, it was a double foul on Cincinnati's opponent that changed the balance of the game. A pair of Trevor Moore technical free throws and a Cane Broome three pointer gave the Bearcats a 7-0 trip down the floor and brought them back to within a possession so Keith Williams, as he's done so many times this year, could battle under the rim and find a way to tie the game.
UCF star BJ Taylor traded layups with Jarron Cumberland to knot the game at 53 before the ‘Cats put Taylor at the line for two and allowed him an open look at the rim on a runner. Cumberland quickly returned fire with a layup of his own and got fouled. The missed free-throw attempt yielded yet another terrible call, putting the Knights back at the line. A make gave the home team a three-point lead, and Cincinnati had worked its way back into position to send the game to overtime.
A Cumberland three-point heave drew contact (uncalled, of course) but the Knights knocked it out of bounds. With 3.5 seconds remaining, the Bearcats had a final shot to extend the game. The Knights lost Cane Broome, who caught the inbounds pass cleanly and got a great look at the rim, but came up just short.
UCF fans inexplicably stormed the court after narrowly beating the spread, sending the Bearcats back to Clifton empty-handed.
It was a game I expected to be ugly. The Knights are an excellent team—the best in the program's history. They just beat a top-10, one-loss Houston team on the road. A ranked matchup on Senior Night made for what is probably the biggest basketball game in UCF history. It also meant the odds were heavily stacked against Cincinnati. Vegas pegged UCF as 2.5-point favorites, and KenPom predicted a three-point Knights win.
I prepared for a tough night, yet nothing could have braced me for what occurred in Orlando. The officiating, as I have subtly alluded to, was putrid. The Bearcats were uninspiring in the first half, saved by the leadership and energy of Scott. Cumberland couldn't buy a bucket, missing several easy ones en route to a 5-for-18 performance. The team shot 3-for-6 at the line, missing several vital freebies. Broome couldn't bury the best look one could hope for at the finish. It was a bad time for all involved.
Having said that, you can't win em all. Cincinnati has the blessing of another opportunity. The 27-2 Cougars stroll into the buzzsaw that is Fifth Third Arena this weekend, and if history is any indicator, the Bearcats will win. They're nearly impossible to beat in Clifton, especially on Senior Day, and especially coming off a loss.
I'll see you there.
Trevon Scott was fantastic, to the point where he carried the Bearcats in their second-toughest game of the season. Jarron Cumberland backdoored his way to ten points. Otherwise, Scott was the only player in double figures, finishing with 20 points on 9-for-15 shooting to go with nine rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Without this game from him, this night is far grizzlier, and certainly not close enough to blame the refs.
I'm starting to worry about Cumberland. He's too talented to stay down, but it seems like the bad luck and the unsupportive way he's officiated is beginning to get to him. Not that I can blame him, but he looks rattled out there. I'm not trying to read too much into this game. The Knights are a good team, they were playing at home, and they had the advantage of seeing Jarron once already last month. This shooting slump needs to abate soon, though. His contributions will matter the rest of the way.
Here’s what you came for. Read ‘em and weep.
This clear hook was not called on Tacko, and officials instead whistled a foul on Eliel Nsoseme.
This was called a common foul.
This was called a common foul.
Rashawn Fredericks did not touch the UCF rebounder. He was pushed by his own teammate, but Fredericks received the foul. Yeehaw.