Central Florida’s A.J. Davis, right, celebrates with teammate Nick Banyard (14) during a 68-58 win against Illinois during an NIT Tournament quarterfinal at CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday. Stephen M. Dowell TNS
Central Florida’s A.J. Davis, right, celebrates with teammate Nick Banyard (14) during a 68-58 win against Illinois during an NIT Tournament quarterfinal at CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday. Stephen M. Dowell TNS

Men's Basketball

UCF handles Illinois, will meet TCU in NIT semifinals

The Associated Press

March 22, 2017 09:38 PM

UPDATED March 22, 2017 11:27 PM

ORLANDO, Fla.

B.J. Taylor scored 17 points, 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall had a double-double and Central Florida held on to defeat Illinois 68-58 on Wednesday night to advance to the final four of the NIT.

A.J. Davis and Matt Williams added 16 points apiece for the Knights (24-11), who play TCU in a semifinal game Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. Fall had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

UCF was the fourth seed in the bracket and Illinois (20-15) No. 2 but due to an arena conflict the Fighting Illini couldn’t host the game. The Knights took advantage with the first sellout crowd in 10,000-seat CFE Arena history to move within one win of tying for the most in school history.

Both teams had five 3-pointers in the first half but Illinois only had two other baskets, shooting 7 for 26 to fall behind 34-19.

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UCF pushed the lead to 19 midway through the second half and was up 52-37 before Malcolm Hill rallied the Illini. Hill hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then made three free throws with 3:14 to play to cut the deficit to six. But Davis made 5 of 6 free throws from there and Taylor was 6 of 8 in the final minute.

Hill had 29 points to finish his Illini career with 1,846, third all-time. Jamall Walker went 2-1 as the interim coach after replacing John Groce, who was fired after the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois introduced Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood as its new coach on Monday.

ILLINOIS (20-15): Black 2-10 0-0 5, Morgan 2-7 0-0 4, Lucas 2-5 0-0 5, Abrams 1-9 3-4 6, Hill 9-18 5-8 29, Jordan 0-3 0-0 0, Coleman-Lands 3-10 0-0 9. Totals 19-62 8-12 58.

UCF (24-11): Banyard 2-6 0-0 4, Fall 5-7 0-0 10, Taylor 5-14 6-8 17, M.Williams 5-13 2-2 16, Davis 3-7 8-10 16, Brown 1-1 1-1 3, Stephenson 0-0 0-0 0, Laing 0-0 0-0 0, Mumin 0-0 0-0 0, Morse 0-0 0-0 0, Efianayi 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-49 17-21 68.

Halftime—UCF 34-19. 3-Point Goals—Illinois 12-38 (Hill 6-12, Coleman-Lands 3-8, Lucas 1-2, Black 1-4, Abrams 1-9, Jordan 0-3), UCF 7-20 (M.Williams 4-11, Davis 2-2, Taylor 1-6, Banyard 0-1). Fouled Out—Morgan. Rebounds—Illinois 22 (Black 7), UCF 38 (Banyard, Fall 10). Assists—Illinois 12 (Lucas 6), UCF 11 (Davis, Banyard 3). Total Fouls—Illinois 22, UCF 12. A—10,011 (9,465).