Feb. 27, 2008
ORLANDO - UCF's Jermaine Taylor scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and the Knights drained eight three-pointers in the opening period to take a double figure lead and never looked back, handing Tulane an 80-63 defeat in front of 4,401 at UCF Arena.
With the loss, Tulane fell to 15-12 overall and 5-8 on Conference USA play, while UCF improved to 15-12 overall and 8-5.
"UCF is a very good basketball team and we couldn't get away from one statistic which was the 16 offensive rebounds and the 34 total boards they had for the game, while we had just 21," Tulane head coach Dave Dickerson said. "In order to win in this conference, we have to rebound the basketball a lot better. Hat's off to Central Florida. We have now lost six in a row and this is a very difficult to deal with. I will get over this tonight and start watching UAB so I can prepare this team for UAB the best way I possibly can to compete against those guys and get a win."
UCF used the long ball to turn a tight game into a possible route in the first half. The Knights drained 8-of-13 three-point field goals (61.5 percent) in the opening period, while Tulane totaled just 10 total field goals. UCF also blistered the nets, hitting 59.3 percent of its field goal attempts, while the Wave hit on 45.5 percent of its attempts from the field.
Tulane had two leads in the first half with the last coming on three free throws from sophomore Kevin Sims when he was fouled on a three-point field goal attempts. Sims sank all three tries and TU led 5-3. UCF then reeled off a 10-2 run to talk 13-7 lead.
Tulane managed to scrape back and senior Matt Wheaton's three-pointer at the 9:12 mark closed the gap to three points at 20-17.
On the ensuing possession, Stanley Billings tipped in a miss and sparked a 19-4 run that included two treys from Mike Battle and five points each from Jermaine Taylor and Dave Noel. By the time Taylor hit a lay-up with 3:50 remaining in the first half, the Green Wave trailed by 18 points and UCF looked to be running away with the game.
However, Tulane responded immediately and played its way back into the game. Gomez scored five straight points on a pair of free throws and a three-point play to ignite a 12-2 spurt for the Wave. Sims and freshman Kris Richard each converted lay-ups during the run and Sims nailed a three-pointer to bring TU back into single digits, 41-33.
However, Taylor responded with a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half that extended the lead back to double figures and UCF led, 44-33, at intermission.
Tulane never got any closer than nine points in the second half. Junior Robinson Louisme hit a jumper to open the second period and pull the Wave to within nine points. Following a Billings free throw, Gomez hit 1-of-2 shots from the charity stripe to pull TU back to within nine. The two teams traded free throws, including Gomez's pair that once again brought Tulane back to within nine points, but Battle converted two of UCF's six straight charity shots and the Wave was never able to slice the deficit back to single digits again.
The second half was marred with 29 fouls, including 15 on the Green Wave, which led to 22 free throw attempts by the Knights and 21 attempts by the Wave. However, UCF converted 20 of 22 attempts into points, while Tulane managed to hit just 11-of-21 attempts. In fact, UCF only made eight field goals in the second period, compared to nine for the Green Wave, and relied on the charity stripe to maintain its lead.
Sims led the Green Wave with 18 points, while Gomez and Louisme added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Louisme grabbed a game-best seven boards and added three blocks.
Along with Taylor, five Knights finished in double figures, including Battle with 15 points, followed by 12 points from Stanley Billings, 11 points from Noel and 10 points from Mike O'Donnell.
UCF won the battle on the boards, 34-21, and out-shot the Wave 47.1 percent to 43.2 percent.