Despite a turbulent start, the UCF Knights Men’s Basketball team were victorious against the Temple Owls by a score of 60-39 in front of 4010 fans. This was the final sporting event of Christmas break before classes resume on Monday.
The game was devoid of offense in the first half and much of the scoring was a result of turnovers from shoddy ball control and poor passing from both teams. Luckily for the Knights (3-1 AAC), redshirt junior Dayon Griffin provided an intensity that was the catalyst for the team. Griffin was tenacious and caused multiple Owls (0-3 AAC) turnovers. Griffin was 6-9 from the floor, scoring 15 points.
“I’m just putting in extra work, not letting the past games get to me. Just moving forward and just focus on what I can do in the future,” Griffin said. “We know we are going to hit shots, we know shots are going to start falling for us. We just try to turn up on defense.”
Head coach Johnny Dawkins was impressed with Griffin’s hustle.
“Dayon is a terrific player. I think just trying to get comfortable, after having sat out a year, but he starting to hit stride,” Dawkins said. “I think he is doing a lot for us defensively. He’s rebounding, making a lot of plays for us. As he goes and continues to make the improvements that he’s made this season, I think we just get better.”
A refocused Knights team were able to shore up its defense, which was one of the best in the nation last season, to stifle the Owls. Thirty-nine points is the equal lowest allowed inside of the CFE Arena in history.
“Defense is something you can’t teach,” redshirt freshman guard Caesar DeJesus said. “Turn up the intensity on defense and cut their (Temple’s) water off.”
Temple has struggled in American Athletic Conference play this season, and due to the Knights stingy defense, star scorer sophomore Quinton Rose only managed two points on 1-7 shooting. Temple averages 70 points-per-game, but a first half 29-22 makes accruing this mark a challenge.
“I thought our defense was a good as its been all year and that I think was probably the difference in tonight’s ball game,” Dawkins said. “We know if we were going to have a chance we were going to have to slow him (Rose) down and contain him.”
The Knights face a tough trip to Connecticut for a midweek game against the UConn Huskies. Tip off is 7p.m. on Wednesday, January 10.