Knights open Johnny Dawkins era with win over Nicholls State


Joe Klawe / Joe Klawe Media Services

Johnny Dawkins got his first win as the head coach of the UCF Men’s Basketball program on Monday with a victory over Nicholls State.

Tacko Fall blocked 16 shots and scored 16 points as the UCF Knights started the Johnny Dawkins era with a 80-56 win over Nicholls State at the CFE Arena on Monday, Nov 14.

Fall scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, as he helped the Knights get a comfortable lead late in the second period. Fall did have three of his four blocks in the first half, but offensively he came into his own in the second 20 minutes.

“I felt very comfortable,” said Fall following the game. “From last year I think I made a big jump holding a good position, playing angles, being patient on the post and when you have guys like Matt (Williams) that can shoot, people can really help off that.”

Matt Williams led the Knights in scoring with his 20 points. The senior went 6-11 from behind the three-point line and shot 7-15 from the field, he also added four rebounds and four assists to his stat line during the season opener.

Senior forward Tank Efianayi added another 16 points and nine rebounds to the mix, as the Knights out rebounded Nicholls 59-36.

“Those are our leaders,” said Dawkins of Efianayi and Williams. “All the player are counting on them, they have the experience and they’re good and I think they showed it tonight.

“Matt’s one of the best shooters I think in the country, I’ve watched a lot of really good shooter but haven’t seen many with the range that he has and he needs to understand that’s a weapon that he can use and that helps our team and Tank (Efianayi) is just versatile.”

B.J. Taylor scored 14 points and had five assists in his return to action after missing all of last season due to injury. The point guard played 27 minutes in his return and tallied six rebounds to add to his totals.

UCF went into halftime leading by just three points and then Nicholls tied the game at 43-43 with 15:08 remaining in the second half. The Knights used a 37-13 run during the final 15 minutes of play to clinch the programs first win under new head coach Johnny Dawkins.

The Knights will now travel to Charleston, South Carolina where they will open up play in the Gildan Charleston Classic on Thursday against Mississippi State. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. with the game being televised on ESPN2.