UCF 78, Pepperdine 65 quotes & notes

UCF Coach Johnny Dawkins – “I think we beat one of the more difficult teams to play in the country with that high-powered offense, with some many guys that can score the ball and shoot the basketball. Great point guard, one of the best we’ve played all year. I’m just really proud of our guys’ effort. We played one of the most complete games we’ve played this season.” (On 40 points from the bench) “That’s who we’ve been. Our strength is in our numbers. Our guys understand that; I think they’re all embracing their roles. So, one guy’s off, like Collin [Smith] was tonight because of foul trouble and couldn’t get going like he’s capable, people have stepped up for us and give us a chance to be competitive.” (On the roles of UCF Guards Brandan Mahan and Caesar DeJesus) “I thought both of those guys were huge. I thought both of those guys came in and gave us a huge lift. First Caesar came in and he was aggressive, playing his game. I thought he got into a great rhythm. I thought Brandon came in and had a real good bounce back game. The other night he didn’t play up to the level I’ve seen him play throughout this season. He responded well tonight, came in, and gave us a huge lift as well.” (On having a 10-pt lead, giving up the lead, then taking it back) “I think we started executing down the stretch. We had gotten away from the game plan a little bit and they’re very good. Any kind of mistake you made they made you pay with the three-ball because they score the ball so well. Give them credit that they came back because they’re a very good basketball team. I thought our guys did a good job of having poise and maintaining that throughout the rest of the game. We’ve been in this situation six times, so I was hoping our guys would respond the way they did.” (On bouncing back after last night’s loss) “That’s tough on any player or team, to lose the way we did, but Penn’s a very good basketball team. You need to be playing really well to get that win. Give them credit; they outplayed us that night. Now we had to respond. I told our guys we had to regroup; we can’t dwell on it because it’s such a quick turnaround in a tournament that we had no time to dwell on that loss. We had to move forward on to our next opponent which was Pepperdine. I think our guys took that to heart.

Pepperdine Coach Lorenzo Romar – “Give Central Florida a lot of credit.  I know Johnny Dawkins really well and he has those guys playing really hard.  We knew going into the game that they were a physical and tough team.  What they have done in spite of the loss of personnel last year is stick together.  They got down in the second half early, but they stuck with it and did a good job.  They made shots so give them a lot of credit.  They fought through adversity, a couple of their top players Colin (Smith) and Dazon (Ingram) got into foul trouble but the other guys came in and picked up the slack.”

On what changed in second half – “We didn’t do a very good job of keeping them in front of us, there is no doubt about that.  Give them credit, they were in attack mode.  If you want to say there was an emotional game last night maybe we were drained, well they played too.  They had an emotional loss to, so whoever was going to recover from day one was going to be the victor.”

On effect of Kameron Edward’s injury – “Well Kameron is a fifth-year senior.  I say quite often when you have a fifth-year senior that can play, it’s worth gold.  He provides so much, you may only see when the basket goes in but his physical presence, experience, and poise in the midst of turmoil is something other players can see.  Last year we didn’t have him which made it tougher for us.  When he goes down it takes a big piece out of what we are trying to do.  Again, at the same time when Kam (Edwards) went down they had two of their best players go down in terms of foul trouble and other guys picked up the slack.”

On Colbey Ross’ play – “Colbey is a really good guard, if one thing isn’t going for him, he is still going to find a way to leave his imprint on the game.”

On Darryl Polk Jr off the bench – “DJ (Darryl Polk Jr.) gave us a huge lift. He was responsible for us taking the lead.  He came in and played good defense. I think he made one defensive mistake.”

“Tomorrow we will come back here to shootaround, then have a team dinner at night.  Guys have got to be off their feet.”

Wooden Chips
• Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross tied the Wooden Legacy single game assist record by dishing out 12 assists… he joins Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss (in 2014) and Sacramento State’s Izayah Mauriohoohoo-Le’Afa (in 2017) as the only players to reach that mark in this tournament’s history.
• UCF ended the game on a 16-4 run, extending a 62-61 lead with 6:44 remaining to the final score of 78-65.
• This was the first ever meeting between these two teams.

UCF (4-2)
• UCF set season highs in both points scored and fewest points allowed (tied)… UCF has now won 19 of the last 20 games when scoring at least 78 points… UCF has now won 27 of its last 29 games when holding opponents to 65 or fewer points.
• UCF began the game 12-30 FG, but then ended 17-26 to finish 29-56 (.518) for the game… UCF has now won 28 of the last 29 games when shooting at least 50% FG.
• UCF got more points from the bench (40) than from the starters (38)… the bench shot 15-28 (.536) FG while the starters shot 14-28 (.500).
• UCF’s leading scorer was Ceasar DeJesus with a career high 21 points… the only other time a Knight had at least 20 points coming off the bench in the last three seasons was B.J. Taylor’s 25 at South Florida on 1/20/18.
• Freshman Darin Green Jr. had a career high 16 points, and has now scored in double digits in four of his six collegiate games.

Pepperdine (3-5)
• Pepperdine shot just 5-24 (.208) 3pt-FGs… the Waves have now lost 21 of the past 23 times they have been held to five or fewer 3pt-FGs.
• The loss for Pepperdine was the third time this season that the Waves led at halftime but lost the game.
• One night after Pepperdine had all five starters score 15 points, the Waves had just one player with 15+ points.
• Kessler Edwards scored 20+ points for the second time in his career, scoring 21 points… Pepperdine has now lost the last four games when a Wave scores 20+ points.
• Colbey Ross handed out 12 assists, one shy of his career best… this marks the fourth time in his career he has had at least 12 assists (all since 12/31/18)… from the start of the 2010-11 season until 12/31/18, Pepperdine just had one 12-assist performance (Jeremy Major vs. Green Bay on 11/28/13).