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Bearcats Avoid Disaster in 60-55 Victory Against UCF

The Bearcats started so slowly in the second half that defeat looked imminent, but they rallied to avoid a loss at home.

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night’s game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the UCF Knights was expected to be a low scoring defensive struggle and it lived up to that billing. Luckily for the Bearcats, they were able to overcome some difficulties in the beginning of the second half to escape with a 60-55 victory at Fifth Third Arena.

A miserable first half from an offensive perspective led to UC leading 26-18 at halftime. Things flipped for the Knights out of the break, as they opened the second half with a 12-0 run and led by as many as eight points in those final 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Bearcats couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm offensively, but they managed to scratch and claw their way back, powered by a 13-2 run near the end of the game which was capped by a three-pointer from Justin Jenifer with 24 seconds remaining.

Even when it appeared that the Bearcats had the game settled, they still nearly lost it as the Knights cut UC’s lead to three points twice in the final 15 seconds. Fortunately for the Bearcats, Jenifer and Keith Williams sank a pair of free throws apiece to secure the victory.

Jenifer and Williams each scored 12 points to pace the Bearcats (22-4, 11-2 American Athletic Conference), who have won back-to-back games and remain in sole possession of second place in the AAC standings. Jarron Cumberland got to 11 points, but went just 3-of-13 from the field while tallying seven rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

UCF (19-6, 9-4) got a game-high 18 points from Aubrey Dawkins as well as 12 from B.J. Taylor, who shot just 4-of-14 from the field and 2-of-8 from three.

This win completed a two-game home stand for the Bearcats, who will visit the UConn Huskies and SMU Mustangs in their next two games.