UCF’s youngsters shine in final exhibition before season opener

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Colt Cardwell / The Skyboat

Adonys Henriquez had 11 points and three rebounds in UCF's 82-65 win over Georgia College.

Justin McBride looked in shape and effective with his 19 points and 13 rebounds, as the UCF Knights defeated Georgia College 82-65 in their final exhibition game before the start of the regular season.

“I’m way better than where I was last year, but I’m still not where I need to be,” said McBride about how he feels going into the regular season. “Just got to keep working on it, keep running, keep doing the extra things and it’ll pay off.”

UCF went into the locker room with a 39-28 lead at halftime, thanks in part to McBride’s 11 first-half points and six rebounds. He did receive a technical foul for hanging on the rim late in the first half and spent the early portion of the second half on the bench.

Freshman guard B.J. Taylor took over after halftime, scoring 10 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half, as UCF went on a 18-10 run. Taylor finished the game with 22 points, bringing his total to 45 points during the two exhibitions.

“We’re going to need them this season down the stretch a lot,” said McBride about the freshman duo. “So I think they’ll be able to contribute and they’re great players.”

Fellow freshman Adonys Henriquez played well in the final exhibition, finishing with 11 points and three rebounds for the game.

Rebounds were big for UCF, as the Knights outrebounded Georgia College 52-38.

UCF’s top freshman guards combined for a total 62 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists during the two exhibitions, making teammates optimistic about their young core despite a slight learning curve.

“Biggest thing is defending right now for both those guys, as freshman they’ve got to guard the ball and be able to keep the ball in front,” said UCF head coach Donnie Jones about his two freshman. “The guards in this league are going to be much faster and more athletic than these guys we’re playing against here right now.”

Despite the two exhibition wins UCF players and coach Jones both understand that there are still things that need to be worked on, including defense and chemistry.

“We have 8-10 guys that can score the ball with ease, but we’re not locked in on defense yet,” said guard Brandon Goodwin after the game. “I think that’s something that we’re going to have to work on a lot in practice.”

The Knights finished their two preseason games a perfect 2-0 and will now look to carry that momentum into the regular season opener against the Stetson Hatters on Sunday. Tip-off for UCF’s home opener against Stetson is set for 6 p.m. with the game being streamed on ESPN3.

“It was just a measuring stick,” said McBride about the benefit of the two exhibitions. “We’ve been beating on each other all summer, all fall, so to get a taste of another team, it kind of shocked us a little bit because we are a young team, but it was necessary for us to get our feet up under us and now we know what to work on.”