UCF men’s basketball looks to bounce back in conference home opener

Knights host Temple Wednesday night

Central Florida's Darin Green Jr. moves the ball against Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Following a major win at home and a tough road loss, UCF (9-3, 1-1 American) is preparing for their first conference game at home this season against Temple (7-6, 0-2 American) Wednesday night.

The last time the Knights played at home on Thursday, they mounted a huge second half comeback against Michigan to win 85-71. But on Sunday, the Knights fell to SMU 72-60, snapping a five-game winning streak.

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“It was a tough loss,” head coach Johnny Dawkins said Tuesday. “It was a tough road game for us. But, we learned a lot about ourselves and how we can get better. I feel like our guys had that type of approach the last few days in practice.”

The players aren’t hanging on to the loss against SMU. Knights forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong called it “next game mentality.”

“We can’t be feeling sorry for ourselves,” Diong said. “We got to move on and just keep doing what we do.”

The game on Wednesday starts a three-game home stand for the Knights with Tulsa on Saturday and Memphis on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Guard Darin Green Jr., is excited to be back playing at home.

“There’s nothing like playing at home,” Green Jr., said. “We just got to get these wins at home and don’t let anybody come in and beat you in your home territory. That’s what we’re focused on: getting the win.”

This is the second time this season UCF will be playing Temple. The Knights won the first matchup in Philadelphia, 65-48. Coach Dawkins knows Temple will provide a challenge again for the team.

“They’re athletic, and they’re long,” Dawkins said. “I was impressed with their length in their ability to defend the ball the way they did up there. We have to respect and understand that we have to be better offensively. And then defensively, we have to identify who their primary scorers are, and we have to do our best job to try and limit them and their opportunities.”

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at Addition Financial Arena.