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Old 01-25-2024, 01:42 PM   #1
Queens_NYC
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UCF

Saturday, January 27th, 2024
7:00 PM
Fifth Third Arena
ESPN+

The Bearcats (13-6, 2-4 Big 12, NET #37, KenPom #32) return home to face a familiar foe in UCF (12-6, 3-3 Big 12, NET #67, KenPom #69) in what is widely considered to be a "must-win" game for the Bearcats' NCAA Tournament resume.

Despite being picked to finish dead last in the 14-team Big 12 preseason poll, the Knights have already pulled off upset victories over Kansas at home (65-60) and Texas on the road (77-71).

8th-year head coach Johnny Dawkins should be all the more impressed with his team's recent triumphs considering he only returned 3 scholarship players from last season's team that made the 2nd round of the NIT.

UCF is one of the most imbalanced teams in the country as they rank 201st in Adjusted Offense but 7th in Adjusted Defense per KenPom. They've held opponents to just 39.8% FG shooting on the season and generate an impressive 15.4 turnovers/game while also blocking 5.6 shots/game. They're a poor shooting team, but do get to the FT line at a high rate (23 attempts/game) where they make 70.4% of their foul shots.

They are led by their two lead guards, 3rd-year 6'1 point guard Darius Johnson (13.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) and 3rd-year 6'4 shooting guard Jaylin Sellers (17.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) who combine for 10.6 3-point attempts/game and 8.9 FT attempts/game.

This game currently stands as a Q2 game for the Bearcats who could use a "quality win" boost with the team being 1-4 in Q1 games and 1-2 in Q2 games so far this season.
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Old 01-26-2024, 07:39 PM   #2
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UCF is elite in many areas on the defensive side. They are top 20 in 2pt field goal percentage, defensive rebounding, turnovers, and blocks. They allow a just below league average 33% from three though, and opponents take nearly 39% of shots from beyond the arc. They also foul a lot. Overall the defense is ranked 5th in the country on Torvik.

On offense they get to the free throw line and grab offensive rebounds at top 50 rates, but that's all they do well. Their effective field goal percentage is an awful 47% and they turn it over on more than 18% of possessions. They don't really have any guys to key on, since the three players with usage rates over 20 have effective field goal percentages under 50. Jaylin Sellers gets to the line over 5 times a game where he hits 85%, but he shoots under 28% from three on high volume. Darius Johnson and Marchelus Avery are both capable of making threes, but Johnson turns it over more than 3 times per game and Avery makes under 47% from inside the arc at 6'7.

This is another game where two bigs probably won't hurt, so I think it's a good matchup for us. Ideally we'll have Day Day harass Johnson, Newman stay in front of Sellers, and Lakhin chase Avery off the 3pt line. 6'4 wing Shemarri Allen is a good defender but a nonfactor on offense, so that's a perfect matchup for Simas.

On offense, two bigs might help us unlock this defense. They generally only have one shot blocker on the floor, with 6'7 Avery manning the 4 spot. If one big can occupy the shot blocker, Lakhin should be able to score in the paint over a shorter defender or dump to Aziz/Jamille or a cutter if the shot blocker comes over. Our guards should not be afraid to attack. UCF's two rim protectors together foul more than 5 times per 40 minutes. It's ok if we have to endure a few rejections if we're also getting rim looks and free throws.

In their win at Texas, they outrebounded the Longhorns by 15 and Sellers went 5 of 6 from midrange and 8 for 8 at the stripe. Against Kansas Johnson and Sellers combined for more threes (7) than Kansas made free throws (6). So they are capable of winning in multiple ways. I think the keys to our success will be rebounding and getting interior looks.
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Old 01-26-2024, 10:44 PM   #3
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Very winnable game.

Sellers is their best player, statistically. Diallo has been decent in conference play. But overall in conference play, UC has played better on both offense and defence.

If we can protect the ball and get to the foul line more, I think we should be fine.
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Old 01-27-2024, 07:54 PM   #4
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Horrible. We've got Aziz guarding a three point shooter in Avery for some reason, and he's torching us. And with Aziz getting dragged to the perimeter we're getting killed on the glass. We fell in love with the midrange after the first 5 minutes and our offense stalled. It's tough having Vik out, but we aren't moving the ball at all. We reverted to midrange heavy hero ball from last year.
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Old 01-27-2024, 09:22 PM   #5
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We fully corrected all of our issues from the first half. We forced Avery to put the ball on the deck, and he wasn't able to get anything going. We kept Aziz under the basket and crashed the defensive glass. We ended up outrebounding UCF 10. And we relentlessly attacked the basket, getting to the rim or free throw line seemingly every possession.

We held UCF to 18 points in the second half, and 5 of those were in the final minute. They shot under 33% from inside the arc and only attempted 9 free throws. We put up 41 second half points despite making only a single three pointer. We should be attacking the rim like that all the time. We've got the athletes for it.
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Old 01-28-2024, 04:08 PM   #6
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Tale of two halves. Shooting is very concerning and the fact day day and jizz are continuously allowed to take long twos… why?
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Old 01-28-2024, 09:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bcatfollower View Post
Tale of two halves. Shooting is very concerning and the fact day day and jizz are continuously allowed to take long twos… why?
We're shooting 28.3% from 3 through 7 conference games which puts us dead last in the league.

Our free throw shooting is also dead last in conference play at 66.2%.

If Simas (23% in Big 12 play) and Day Day (6% in Big 12 play) can shoot 30-35% from 3 again, that would be a notable improvement for each.
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Old 01-29-2024, 11:18 AM   #8
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We're not shooting many threes either. Only 31% of our field goal attempts come from beyond the arc in conference play, 2nd fewest in the league. We don't have good shooters and Wes knows it. Skillings has become the only reliable threat on decent volume. Hopefully Fredrick can come back at some point.

I don't see free throws improving. Everyone is shooting near their career averages. Can't blame Simas, Day Day, Jizzle, or Reed - they're all making over 80% in conference. Newman is 68% in conference and he's a 69% career shooter. Skillings is at 61%, a little below his 65% career mark. The problem is we have three centers who play a lot of minutes and are terrible free throw shooters. The only solution would be to reduce their minutes or stop featuring them in the offense, but we don't have a perimeter game to fall back on.
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