UCF men’s basketball opens up season with win over Stetson


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

B.J. Taylor has 14 points and nine rebounds in his regular season debut.

The UCF Knights’ highly touted freshman B.J. Taylor and Adonys Henriquez led the black and gold to a 64-55 win against the Hatters of Stetson in the season opening game at CFE Arena.

Taylor led the Knights (1-0) with 14 points and nine rebounds and Henriquez contributed 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in the victory.

“It was just great being out here,” said Taylor. “You have to give Stetson a lot of credit, they played hard, played real aggressive…it was great to come out here and deal with some adversity and to come out of it.”

Henriquez echoed similar sentiments when talking about his first collegiate regular season game.

“Tonight as a team we played good, I just felt as a team we had some spurts where we had some mishaps on defense but towards the end we had a lot of good rebounds and moved the ball, so I felt tonight was a good win for us.”

Despite good passing and unselfish play early, the Knights were unable to find many offensive buckets in the first half. Shaheed Davis provided a spark for the Knights in the first half with his aggressive work on the boards. Davis would finish with a double-double (11 points and 13 rebounds), including eight rebounds in the first half. UCF led 34-28 at the half.

“We have to find a spot to put him, he (Davis) brings so much to us,” said UCF head coach Donnie Jones. “He’s athletic, he’s 6 foot 9.”

The Hatters (1-1) were lead by Brian Pegg, who had 12 points, and Kyle Sikora who had seven points and 10 rebounds.

“It was a tough game,” said Jones. “I told those guys in the beginning of the game this would be a team that would play tough, play physical…we needed to come in from the beginning and expect a grind game.”

Jones substituted early and often, trying to find a lineup that could clique offensively.

“We were mixing and matching lineups, trying to find out who to play,” said Jones. “I was basing it on effort, I was basing it on production, and guys who were doing the things we were asking them to do.”

The second half was back and forth from start to finish. After surrendering the lead at the 14 minute mark, Taylor hit back to back buckets, including a three to avoid Stetson grabbing too much momentum.

“He’s got the ability to score,” said Jones on Taylor’s first collegiate performance. “Sometimes you have to live with some tough shots like he took early on, but when a guy can score you got to live with that, but I think he made some plays, made some big free throws. He’s just got that knack to either get free throws or score.”

The teams would trade buckets for most of the second half, with neither team fully grasping hold of the momentum.

The Knight defense would hold strong in the final minutes however, and the team would finish on a 11-0 run down the stretch.

“I guess the best words, 1-0, we got the win, and I’m happy how we played in the last six minutes,” said Jones.

B.J. Taylor hit a pair of free throws with 33 seconds to go to give the Knights a 62-55 lead and essentially ice the game.

The win is the 12th straight season opening win for the Knights. UCF will next face Eckerd College, Thursday Nov. 20 at CFE Arena.