UCF men’s basketball falls to SMU at home, despite strong play

Sunday’s win had a classic Larry Brown feel as the SMU Mustangs used sound defense and superb ball movement to pick up the 70-61 win over the UCF Knights at CFE Arena in front of 3,664. The Hall of Fame head coach guided his Mustangs to their 12th overall win of the season and third in four games in American Athletic Conference play.

Sophomore Nic Moore led the Mustangs with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, including 5-of-9 from three-point range. The Mustangs’ ball movement proved to be too much for the Knights as they recorded 19 assists to the Knights’ nine assists.

“We want to move the ball around so you recognize what [defense] they’re in,” said Brown. “We always talk about it on the road making extra passes and try to get high-percentage shots. We’re pretty unselfish for the most part, sometimes some of our turnovers are because we’re too unselfish and I’ll take that. It wouldn’t have mattered who we played, we just wanted to share the ball.”

The Mustangs jumped out to an 18-9 lead in the first half before UCF cut their lead to just four points at halftime. Freshmen B.J. Taylor and Adonys Henriquez helped the Knights cut into the lead by scoring seven points each in the first half.

SMU stopped any momentum UCF had when they ran out to an 8-2 run to begin the second half, sparked by two three-pointers from Moore.

The Knights received 11 total points each from Taylor, Henriquez and Brandon Goodwin. The team was held to just 36 percent shooting from the field and 28 percent from three-point range on the game.

“They’re one of the best defensive teams we’ve seen this year,” Knights head coach Donnie Jones said. “Honestly we needed some shots to go down from the three-point line to really open this thing up. We had the opportunity with some [kick-outs] but they didn’t go down tonight for our guards which have been shooting the ball well but give SMU some credit. They got great length, great guard size and they can frustrate you with their defensive intensity.”

SMU entered the game having won its last two games against UCF since the two teams moved to the American last year. With Sunday’s win, the all-time series is tied at six games between the two teams.

UCF returns to action on Wednesday and faces a Tulane team that is 12-4 on the season and 3-1 in the American. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as the first 1,200 people at the game will receive a free shirt. The game is at 7:00 pm and will be televised on ESPN3.