Second-half surge not enough as UCF men lose at home to Ole Miss

If the UCF men’s basketball team wanted to get a true test as to what it could be like in its first season in the Big 12, the Knights got it Sunday afternoon.

It was a furious finish and a heartbreaking loss.

Shemarri Allen scored 14 points, including a one-handed dunk with 16:54 left in the second half that brought the fans at Addition Financial Arena to their feet  and started a surge that helped UCF crawl back into its game with Ole Miss. But it wasn’t enough as the Knights ran out of gas late and fell to the Rebels, 70-68.

UCF (6-3, 0-0 Big 12) trailed for nearly 25 minutes but used two turnovers in the final 52 seconds to cut the lead to 1 but couldn’t find a way to get the win.

Marchelus Avery’s shot at the buzzer was waved off by officials.

Darius Johnson had a team-high 25 points and Jaylin Sellers, who entered the game leading the Big 12 in scoring with 20.6 points per game, had 11.

The Rebels (9-0, 0-0 SEC) were paced by guard Allen Flannigan (16 points).

This was the fifth meeting in this series, with Ole Miss holding a 3-1 advantage coming in after UCF won 72-61 last year on the road.

Guard Antwann Jones debuted for the Knights after sitting out the first 8 games while dealing with eligibility issues. After transferring from Louisiana, the former Oak Ridge High product was one of 10 newcomers to the roster this offseason.

Jones played 7 minutes in the first half and finished the game with three points, four rebounds and three assists.

It was a physical game, with the teams combining for 44 fouls.

Ole Miss coach Chris Beard spent seven seasons in the Big 12 — first at Texas Tech (2016-21) where he led the Red Raiders to the 2019 national-title game and then two seasons at Texas (2021-23) — before being fired after an arrest on a felony charge of assault on a family member on Dec. 12, 2022.

“That felt like a Big 12 game,” said Beard. “It was two teams really going at it and it was a game of runs.”

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