UCF basketball eager to snap skid against Tulsa

UCF has lost six of its past seven games, but the team hasn’t given up.The Knights (15-10, 6-7 AAC) are hoping to end their American Athletic Conference slide against Tulsa at CFE Arena Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will air on ESPNews. UCF...

UCF basketball eager to snap skid against Tulsa

UCF has lost six of its past seven games, but the team hasn’t given up.

The Knights (15-10, 6-7 AAC) are hoping to end their American Athletic Conference slide against Tulsa at CFE Arena Tuesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will air on ESPNews. 

UCF has five regular-season games remaining, during which coach Johnny Dawkins wants to see his team improve.

“Coach says every day that we still have a lot to play for,” center Tacko Fall said. “This season isn’t over yet.”

Fall is averaging a double-double at 12.2 points and 10 rebounds per game, but he has gotten into foul trouble recently. Without Fall on the floor for long stretches, UCF’s frontcourt becomes weaker on both ends and the team is struggling to offset the loss of his production. finding it hard to find a player to play through.

A.J. Davis has struggled during the same stretch, averaging 7.7 points per game this season after leading the team in scoring last season with 12 points per game. His field-goal shooting percentage has dropped from 38 percent last season to 35.2 percent this season.

B.J. Taylor is UCF’s leading scorer this season at 17 points per game, and he has carried the team, at times, through a tough stretch.

“It’s come to the time that we need a sense of urgency moving forward,” Taylor said. “I don’t think there’s been one thing that’s been the problem. Us putting together a full game is the most important thing. Everybody’s buying into their role and trying to help the team win, and we have to come together. We’re going through a rough patch, but we’re going to grow out of it.”

Dawkins pointed out that although Tulsa (12-12, 6-6 AAC) is undersized, it is going to present challenges for UCF. 

UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, guard B.J. Taylor and center Tacko Fall preview the Knights' matchup with Tulsa Tuesday. 

UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, guard B.J. Taylor and center Tacko Fall preview the Knights' matchup with Tulsa Tuesday. 

UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, guard B.J. Taylor and center Tacko Fall preview the Knights' matchup with Tulsa Tuesday. 

UCF coach Johnny Dawkins, guard B.J. Taylor and center Tacko Fall preview the Knights' matchup with Tulsa Tuesday. 

UCF's 2017 football schedule was released by the American Athletic Conference Thursday morning.

UCF's 2017 football schedule was released by the American Athletic Conference Thursday morning.

UCF head coach Scott Frost talks about how they've learned to save scholarship spots after National Signing Day to attract more and better recruits.

UCF head coach Scott Frost talks about how they've learned to save scholarship spots after National Signing Day to attract more and better recruits.

For the second straight season under UCF coach Scott Frost, the Knights finished with a top-three signing class in the American Athletic Conference.

For the second straight season under UCF coach Scott Frost, the Knights finished with a top-three signing class in the American Athletic Conference.

FSU came out on top while UCF turned in a solid effort. Florida rallied and USF made a huge comback from the bottom of the ladder.

FSU came out on top while UCF turned in a solid effort. Florida rallied and USF made a huge comback from the bottom of the ladder.

Despite only having one player averaging double-figure scoring (Junior Etou, 12.4 points per game), the Golden Hurricane beat the Knights 77-66 the last time the teams faced off on Jan. 28, using a 12-1 run in the final few minutes to put away UCF.

With the Golden Hurricane and Knights jostling for position in a crowded American Conference, Tuesday’s game is a chance for UCF to generate positive momentum.

“We still have a lot of time to make a run in our conference, but we have to seize the moment,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins has had to deal with a short-handed squad during his opening season in Orlando.

With only seven scholarship players, Matt Williams, Taylor and Davis have all had to play more than 30 minutes per game.

“[We have a] lack of depth, of course. Having seven scholarship players is what it is,” Dawkins said. “But we’ve been in games and had opportunities. We have to be better in situations and execute properly. I’m a big believer in accomplishing those things and it’ll take care of itself.”

UCF’s defensive mindset has led to holding opponents to 61.2 points per game and 35.8 percent shooting. That’s good for sixth in the NCAA.

The Knights have shown that their brand of basketball can work, but they will have to be more consistent to get results again.

“We need 40 minutes,” Dawkins said. “When we haven’t, it’s been a letdown for us and when we have we’ve been successful.

“We need to get back to 40 minutes of UCF basketball.”

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