B.J. Taylor scored 24 points and made 3 of 5 from 3-point range to help UCF win its fifth in a row with a 70-64 victory over Alabama on Thursday night.
The Knights (6-1) took the lead for good during a 12-3 run that made it 50-43 with 11 minutes left in the game. The Crimson Tide (5-2) stayed close and had a five-point possession which closed the deficit to 59-57.
Alabama trailed 61-59 with 3:38 to go, but Dayon Griffin’s 3-pointer and Tacko Fall’s dunk pushed the UCF lead to seven and the Knights led by at least two possessions the rest of the way.
“I am just really proud of our guys,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I thought they gave a tremendous effort to hold that team to 64 points with their ability to score the basketball inside and out. It took a great effort and I thought our guys gave that tonight and beat a very good basketball team.”
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UCF controlled the first half, taking its largest lead of the game at 18-6 and going into the break with a 29-25 advantage.
“We got off to a slow start and that was problematic for us,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. “It’s hard when you get down big on the road, especially when you are playing against an NCAA-tournament type of team. I was proud of the way we fought back, especially in the second half. They dominated us at the free throw line — they had 36 attempts to our 14. We just fouled too much. I thought our defense overall when we didn’t foul was pretty good.”
Alabama took its first lead at 36-34 and retook it at 40-38, but UCF quickly pushed back in front each time and the Crimson Tide led for only 51 seconds of the game.
Aubrey Dawkins added 16 points and Fall scored 10 for the Knights.
Alex Reese and Kira Lewis Jr. scored 14 each for the Tide, while Donta Hall added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Alabama: The Tide has won the rebounding battle in all seven of its games this season and outrebounded UCF 46-29, including a 19-4 edge on the offensive glass. As a result, Alabama had 21 more shot attempts than the Knights, but made only four more shots from the field. UCF overcame the shot disparity at the foul line, making 23 of 36 attempts compared to just 9 of 14 for Alabama. The Tide struggled especially from 3-point range, making just 5 of 24.
UCF: The Knights knocked off a Power 5 opponent in their first try of the season and they’ll get another chance with Missouri on Sunday. … Last season, UCF travelled to Tuscaloosa and beat the Tide 65-62. Alabama was ranked No. 24 at the time. … UCF received votes in the most recent AP poll.
“It’s a great win for us, a good win for our program, and a resume building win as we move closer toward March,” Taylor said. “They are a really good team out of the SEC and we are just really happy to get the win.”
Alabama: Hosts Georgia State on Tuesday.
UCF: Visits Missouri on Sunday.