Starters: Jalen Adams, Christian Vital, Terry Larrier, Isaiah Whaley, Josh Carlton
20:00 - Game is underway.
14:46 - The score is 3-3. UConn’s only basket is a banked three by Terry Larrier.
10:50 - UCF is on a 10-0 run and leads 10-3. UConn has committed 5 turnovers and Larrier has taken five bad shots, missing all but that banked three, which stands as the Huskies’ only basket. Things are going great, thank you.
6:40 - UCF leads 16-12. We’re still bad.
2:50 - UCF lead down to 27-25. Larrier has 8 points on 3-10 shooting and Antwoine Anderson has 8 as well.
0:00 - 31-29 UCF at the break.
20:00 - When does baseball season start?
1:31 - UCF 60, UConn 56. Huskies are showing some fight but still lots of bad shots and turnovers.
Final - Did not win
Central Florida looks to even the season series with UConn tonight, but it won’t be easy after suffering a season-ending injury to star center Tacko Fall.
UCF has only played three games since the loss to UConn, and the Knights have been struggling since then, picking up only one win over that stretch. To be fair, the two losses came against Cincinnati and Wichita State, but the lone win—a two-point victory over lowly South Florida—tells a clearer story. They’re now 13-7 overall and 4-4 in the conference.
Without Fall, the Knights’ defense is far from what it used to be. The 7-foot, 6-inch centerpiece was the linchpin of their strategy on the defensive end, where Johnny Dawkins’ team found the most success. Their season-long defensive stats have not fallen much yet, but giving up 69 points to South Florida is not a nice performance by any means.
Luckily for UCF, last year’s returning scorer B.J. Taylor is finally back from an injury that has kept him out for most of the season. Taylor hasn’t yet regained his full ability, but his jumper is looking solid, and he’ll be in the starting lineup tonight. Taylor will pick up some of the slack on offense, and he’ll be joined by A.J. Davis, also averaging double figures, and the sharpshooting Djordjije Mumin.
Davis will likely be used in the center position on defense, but the leading defensive contributor in Fall’s absence will be Chad Brown, a 6’4” junior who plays bigger than his size.
The Knights’ leading scorer in these teams’ first matchup was Ceasar DeJesus, and Terrell Allen also scored a dozen. Dayon Griffin, normally a consistent option, was 1-10 from the field.
UConn can’t count on Central Florida’s shooting to ice cold again. While Kevin Ollie’s gameplan against the Knights is typically pretty solid, the temporary loss of Terry Larrier has left him shorthanded, and his rotations aren’t what anyone wants them to be. Pair that with the Huskies’ struggles on the road this year—they’re 1-5 in away games and 2-8 in all games played outside Connecticut—and you have the makings of a game that could be much closer than expected. Larrier is expected to return to action tonight. which should give the Huskies a boost.
UConn will need the same level of offensive production in the rematch in order to defeat UCF easily. With Antwoine Anderson seeming to break out of his slump, Jalen Adams and Christian Vital might not have so much pressure on them to create all the scoring opportunities. And without Fall, the Knights could be running short lineups for most of the game, which could create plenty of opportunities for the high-percentage big men: Josh Carlton, Isaiah Whaley, and, increasingly, Mamadou Diarra.
Central Florida without Tacko Fall is not nearly as intimidating or imposing a presence as usual. This is a road game that UConn should win. Unfortunately, we don’t know if this Husky team will show up or lay down a stinker tonight. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for tonight.
PREDICTION: UConn 65, Central Florida 55