UCF wins 55-54 for 9th straight against USF

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UCF Men’s Basketball have now won nine straight against USF.

Nate Marrero, Sports Editor

Two late free throws from Dazon Ingram proved to be the difference for the UCF Knights as they pulled off a home comeback on Saturday for their ninth straight win against USF Bulls, 55-54. 

“Even before I was here, we were beating USF and even I beat them my freshman year,“ Collin Smith said. “We’re just trying to keep the tradition going.”

Down 54-49 with 2:07 left in the game, UCF (11-7, 2-4) head coach Johnny Dawkins was forced to call a timeout – during which Matt Milon provided some encouragement for his team.  10 seconds later they resumed play and Milon drained a three to cut the deficit to two points. 

“I can just think about what Matt said,” Dawkins said of what he saw during the timeout. “Matt was just so confident, he was like ‘guys, we’re alright, we’re ok.’ I can remember walking into the huddle saying that and so right out of that we come out and run a play for Matt, Matt hits the three and it’s a two-point game.”

After the Knights managed to get a stop on defense, Ingram was fouled with 53 seconds left in the game. With a chance to tie the game by making both free throws, Ingram managed to just make one of the two to make it a one-point game. 

With another chance to extend their lead, the Bulls came up empty-handed once again. With 19 seconds left in the game, UCF called their final timeout down 54-53. 

Coming out of the timeout, Ingram drove to the basket and drew another foul. To say that USF’s (8-10, 1-5) head coach Brian Gregory was upset with the coach would be an understatement. 

“Very disappointed in that call at the end of the game,” Gregory said of the foul call. “It was not a good call. When I see it on film and I’ve been told already, but if it is what I think it was, give the kid credit, [he] drove it hard…it’s disappointing that two teams play as hard as both those teams played tonight and competed – you know – very clean and tough for it to end on a call like that.” 

Ingram made both free throws to give UCF a 55-54 lead with 13 seconds left in the game. 

Following a 60 second timeout, the Bulls ran a play for Laquincy Rideau but he missed the potential game-winning shot as UCF held on for their second straight conference win. 

Ingram had 11 points to go along with five assists while Ceasar Dejesus also led the team with 11 points. Brandon Mahan came two points away from a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds. 

Michael Durr led the Bulls with 11 points and Rideau had nine points, five assists, and five rebounds. 

USF has now dropped three straight games by a combined total of eight points. They’ll be back in action on the 21 when they host the 16th ranked Wichita State Shockers. 

“The only way out is through it,” Gregory said of how his team needs to get through this tough stretch. “Sometimes going through it is not fun, it sucks but it’s the only way. There’s no shortcuts, there’s no diverting around it, you got to go through it and our guys have to learn on their own experience…You never know when the breakthrough comes but you just got to keep at it cause it will come…Sometimes it’s in these darkest, really hard ones that you’re at your closest.” 

UCF will now get some much needed time off before they go on the road to face Wichita State (15-3), on January 25.

“I think the week off can be good for us,” Dawkins said. “We’ve had a tough stretch right now, a tough stretch of games and I think our guys definitely need this time and we can use this time wisely in preparation for Wichita State as well as recovery wise for our guys.”