UCF finding its way in February, hosts Temple
In a sporadic campaign that has featured numerous COVID-19 interruptions, the UCF Knights are playing their best basketball of the season down the stretch.
Winners of two straight contests and four of their past six, the Knights (8-11, 6-10 American) host Temple on Saturday afternoon in Orlando, Fla., in the second meeting between the schools.
The Owls (5-10, 4-10) earned a 62-55 win on Jan. 14 in Philadelphia, getting 20 points from Damian Dunn and 13 rebounds from J.P. Moorman II.
Coach Johnny Dawkins' Knights finds themselves in a better situation now and are seeking their fifth victory in February after just two in four December games and one in six January games.
UCF's most recent scheduled game -- Tuesday in Dallas against SMU -- was cancelled due to coronavirus issues among the Mustangs. Last Saturday, the Knights beat Tulane 84-81 behind forward Isaiah Adams' season-best 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting.
"There was a stretch where I wasn't doing what I could offensively," said Adams, who is averaging 9.0 points a game, mostly off the bench. "This game it was just back in my rhythm. I (got) my groove back and we were back to playing basketball."
Adams averaged 18.5 points and shot 81.3 percent from the field in the wins over South Florida and Tulane, was named the American Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Week.
He also collected that award Dec. 21 after he scored 22 points as UCF upset then-No. 15 Florida State 86-74 on the road.
In its biggest American Athletic Conference victory of the season, Temple routed South Florida 65-47 in Tampa to split consecutive games with the Bulls.
Temple lost to USF at home Sunday 83-76, but bounced back in Wednesday's rematch in Tampa with a strong defensive performance, when they outshot the Bulls 45.1 percent to 28.8 percent from the field and held the home team to 17 second-half points.
Khalif Battle tallied 22 points in the win to help break Temple's six-game losing streak. The guard said the defensive effort over the last 20 minutes came down to one thing.
"Wanting to win, the will to win," Battle said. "In the locker room, during the halftime, we kept saying, 'It's not over.' ... It led to a victory."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 26, 2021