UCF FALLS TO MOODY MYSTIQUE

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, December 28th, 2017

UCF_SMU_122717_019

BY: Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                      Member USBWA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Moody Coliseum has quietly become one of the most daunting arenas in college basketball. The University of Central Florida fell victim to the Moody Mystique Wednesday night, as SMU beat the Knights 56-51. It was the Mustangs’ 10th home win of the season and extended the current home winning streak overall to 32-0 dating back to the 2015-16 season. That is the second longest current home winning streak in the nation.

This game was the American Athletic Conference opener for both squads. The Mustangs improved to 11-3 overall and 1-0 in conference. UCF drops to 9-4 and 0-1.

This was a really good win for SMU. At the conference media day the coaches picked UCF to finish ahead of the Mustangs in third place in this year’s regular season conference race. (Cincinnati and Wichita State were predicted to finish first and second.)

It was a hard fought defensive game from start to finish, characterized by long possessions with shots coming late in the shot clock. UCF has a most unusual player in 7’-6” Tacko Fall. He is a game changer on both ends of the court. He played 25 minutes, and those were minutes when it was almost impossible for SMU to make a shot of less than 10 feet.

SMU designed their defensive game plan around Fall. The goal was to keep the ball out of his hands, because if he controls the ball anywhere near the basket, he makes an easy shot. He arrived as the reigning conference Player of the Week on the strength of two double-doubles, but Ethan Chargois and Akoy Agau matched up with Fall holding him to just four shots in the game. He made three for just six points.

“Odd.” That’s how Chargois characterized playing against Fall. “We had to keep his touches in the paint to a minimum.”

Agau added. “He’s so big and does such a good job of protecting the rim for his team and blocking shots. Just his presence makes it hard to drive because he’s blocking shots.”

The game was really defined by two SMU runs, one in each half. The Mustangs were down 6-2 early, but went on a 12-0 run to take an eight point lead. They held the lead the rest of the first half going to the locker room at intermission ahead 26-21.

The Knights came out smoking in the second half outscoring the Mustangs 8-2 to take the only lead they would have in the second half at 29-28. The Mustangs responded with a 13-2 run to rebuild the lead into double digits at 41-31.

Another oddity was the free throw shooting. The Mustangs shot NONE over the first 37 minutes of the game. Part of that statistical anomaly was Fall. The Mustangs simply did not get inside shots where fouls often occur. SMU finished 4-8 from the line, with most of the attempts coming on fouls late when UCF was trying to stop the clock.

The 56 points the Mustangs scored was their season low. The Ponies’ shooting percentage was an embarrassing low 41.8%, but fortunately, their defense held UCF to just 37%. It was the first SMU game this season with fewer than three Mustangs scoring in double digits. Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster each scored 14 to lead the Ponies. Foster was a rebound away from a double-double with nine boards. Ben Emelogu led SMU with six assists. Overall, the Mustangs recorded 17 assists on 23 made baskets.

Dayon Griffin and A. J. Davis were the only two Knights in double digits. They each scored 12. Fall and Chad Brown pulled down seven rebounds each to lead UCF.

“Great! I thought he did a great job,” Head Coach Tim Jankovich said about Chargois guarding Fall. “I thought Akoy (Agau) did a terrific job. (They) both took the challenge. That was a big key to the game. Both of them – give them great credit.”

“Last year they led the country in opponents’ field goal percentage defense,” Jankovich said about the Knights. “They’re very good again. Johnny (UCF Head Coach Dawkins) does a good job of coaching defense. They’re athletic. They play hard. They’re big. They’re hard to play against. They’re going to win a lot of games.”

As for his team, Jankovich said, “(With) the eight day break, we were a little rusty. Not as an excuse in any way, but I hope we look a lot different come Sunday. We’re a dangerous offensive team, and tonight they made us look like we weren’t. I give them credit for that.”

The Mustangs close out the month of December and the 2017 calendar year with a tilt this Sunday night at 7:00 PM against the South Florida Bulls. The game will be televised on ESPNU. South Florida is 7-6 on the season and plays the University of Houston Thursday night to open conference play prior to arriving in Dallas for a taste of the Moody Mystique.

NOTABLE:

  • Shake Milton scored 14 points in the game to become the 41st player in SMU history to reach the 1,000 mark in his career.   He now has scored 1,007.
  • Ben Emelogu was named to the AAC Weekly honor roll for last week. He averaged 15.5 points in two games hitting eight of nine three point shots. He came into Wednesday’s game leading the nation in three point shooting percentage at 62.5% and hit one of two against the Knights.
  • Akoy Agau said about his injury that has limited his play so far this year that his knee is fine now, and it’s just a matter of getting into better physical shape to be able to play more min
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  1. Karl Koenig says:

    Dic, Another of your great summaries. Laney and I watched the whole thing and we both wondered what we’d do with Tacko.But darned if Jankovich didn’t come up with a plan. Another good reason why we have him. See you Sunday….

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