UCF basketball recap: Knights Notch 20th Win With Comeback Victory Over Southern Miss
CUSA Fans UCF Correspondent Ryan Westin brings the latest update on the UCF Golden Knights basketball team.
UCF picked up win number twenty by defeating Southern Miss, 59-56, on Wednesday night in Orlando. UCF improved to 20-7 on the season and 9-4 in Conference USA play. The Golden Knights trailed for the majority of the contest, but they were able to rally late in the second stanza for a huge league win at the UCF Arena.
The Golden Knights trailed by eight at the half and were able to chip away at the large advantage by Southern Miss but unable to take the lead until Lavell Payne connected on two free throws with a little under four minutes to go to give them a 49-48 advantage. UCF went on an 18-5 run to take a six-point advantage over USM with less than 20 seconds remaining.
Southern Miss mustered a comeback of its own as Jeremy Wise was able to knock down a quick three to cut the lead to three with 13 seconds left. A quick foul put Mike O’Donnell on the line where he made the first free throw but missed the second. Jeremy Wise was there again, driving down the court for a quick lay-up while drawing the foul against UCF’s Lavell Payne. He would convert the three-point play.
With the lead now down to one, Dave Noel made both of his free throws to put UCF up by three. Jeremy Wise pushed off to get a shot at an open three as time expired, but the attempt rimmed out and UCF held on for the 59-56 victory. The Golden Knights have now won five of their last six games. The miss by Wise at the buzzer was a rare occurrence on a night that he was 5 of 9 from behind the arc and led the team with 22 points against the Knights.
We Must Protect this House
Two to go?
UCF has only two games remaining in the UCF Arena, as they will call the 10,000-seat convocation center home at the end of this season. The Golden Knights showed the poise of a postseason team—either the NCAA tournament or the NIT—with their victory over a solid Southern Miss team. If UCF was able to lock up a bid in the NIT, it would have an opportunity to host an NIT game and allow for an encore in the UCF Arena.
When these two teams met earlier this month, the Golden Knights manufactured a 63-53 win in Orlando. Lavell Payne produced the second double double of his career, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. After this road test, UCF will head home for the last two games of the regular season as they will host Houston next Wednesday and East Carolina on Saturday, March 3rd. The East Carolina game will not only be Senior Night and the last home game of the season but it will also be the last UCF basketball game in the arena (unless it hosts an NIT game.)