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It’s the second round of the NIT on the hardwood as a member of the AAC makes the trip to the Pacific Northwest to take on a member of the Pac-12 with the winner moving on while the loser goes home. The UCF Knights are on the road as they make the cross-country trek to face the Oregon Ducks Sunday night. UCF advanced as they dispatched Florida 67-49 in their first-round tilt, winning outright as a 2.5-point underdog, Wednesday night. Oregon drubbed UC Irvine 84-58 at home in their first-round matchup Wednesday night, easily covering as a 5.5-point favorite. This marks the first time that the programs have met as Division I teams.
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UCF put together a solid showing as they stifled Florida in the swamp to earn a win in the opening round and advance to this contest. The Knights improved their record to 19-14 on the season overall and they were 8-10 in the conference on the season. Against Florida, UCF trailed 9-2 just over two minutes into the game but took control by reeling off a 20-3 run that gave them a 22-12 advantage with 8:34 to go in the first half. The Knights were up nine at the half and didn’t let the Gators closer than seven the rest of the way to secure the victory. UCF shot 52.7% from the floor, including six of 15 from three-point range, won the rebounding battle 39-29 and held Florida to 32.2% shooting in the game. C.J. Kelly led the Knights with 21 points in the win.
The Knights put up an average of 72.1 points per contest (171st in the country) this season. UCF pulls down 35.1 rebounds per cont est while dishing out 14 assists per game this season. The Knights are an above average team on the defensive end of the floor, ranking 48th in the nation by allowing 65.5 points per game. Taylor Hendricks leads the Knights and is one of four players averaging in double figures as he puts up 15.3 points plus 6.9 rebounds per contest this season. Darius Johnson (10 points, 4.3 assists), Ithiel Horton (12.4 points), C.J. Kelly (13.3 points) and Jayhlon Young are solid secondary scoring options. Brandon Suggs, Michael Durr, C.J. Walker, Thierno Sylla, Lahat Thioune and Tyem Freeman are all important rotation players for the Knights. UCF is shooting 43.2% from the floor as a team this season. The Knights drain 8.8 triples a night while shooting 36% from beyond the arc. UCF is cashing in a stellar 77.1% of their chances at the free throw line, which leaves them 20th in the nation in that department.
Walker is expected to miss the rest of the s eason with a leg injury.
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