ORLANDO, Fla. — B.J. Taylor is making up for lost time.
After missing the first 16 games of the season with a broken foot, Taylor entered averaging a team-high 13.8 points in his first four games back for UCF. Only one of those was a win, when he scored 25 points against USF.
He had another big game Wednesday night, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half and the last two free throws as the Knights made 9 of 10 in the final minute to defeat UConn for just the second time ever, 70-61.
“It was too much B.J. Taylor. He controlled the game,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “When they needed a bucket, he got it, or he created for his teammates.”
Taylor made 7 of 10 shots, only showing a little rust at the foul line, where he was 5 of 10. Although he was 10 of 11 from the foul line when the Knights won at USF 71-69.
UConn never led after making the opening basket and UCF didn’t lead by double figures until the closing run.
Taylor had 14 points in the second half. Three other players scored in double figures for the Knights but the rare win in the series wasn’t secure until finding the range from the foul line in the final minute, missing 12 of 24 in the first 39 minutes. UCF finished 21 of 34.
The Knights (14-7, 5-4 American) were up by seven midway through the second half when the Huskies (11-11, 4-5) reeled off seven, the last five from Christian Vital, who tied it with a 3-point play with 6:25 to go. But Taylor made 2 of 4 free throws and found Dayon Griffin for a 3-pointer and UCF was ahead for good.
Vital’s two free throws with a minute left made it 61-55 and the teams traded 2-point possessions. A.J. Davis went to the line with 35.9 seconds to play and made 1 of 2 free throws. After the second shot was missed, Tyler Polley grabbed the rebound and threw it out of bounds.
After two free throws from by Davis, the Huskies’ Jalen Adams had another turnover and Ceasar DeJesus made it 68-58 from the line.
Terry Larrier led UConn with 15 points. Vital grabbed a season-high nine rebounds.
After Larrier opened the scoring with a 3 — 3 ½ minutes in — the Knights reeled off 11 straight. Midway through the first half UCF led 11-5. Larrier finally pulled the Huskies even at 29 but Terrell Allen’s tipin at the buzzer gave the Knights the lead.
UConn: Having lost three of four, the Huskies could ill afford to lose to a team they had beaten eight straight times and were 11-1 against. A win would have put UConn in a tie for fourth, which is worth a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Instead the Knights are in the tie with SMU and Memphis and the Huskies are one of three teams a game behind. … The Huskies were 7 of 15 from 3-point range, 15 of 39 from inside the arc, and were outrebounded 38-26.
“But we have to do a better job rebounding,” Ollie said. “We can’t get outrebounded by 12 and we can’t give up 12 offensive rebounds.”
UCF: The Knights, who last beat the Huskies in 2011, lost the first meeting this season 62-53, but were without Taylor. This time they were missing 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall, who was averaging 11.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and shooting 77 percent. Fall is out for the season after recent shoulder surgery. … The Knights are now 13-1 when scoring 60 points.
UCF is 12-0 when leading with 10 minutes to play, 13-0 when leading with five minutes remaining and 14-0 with a lead at the two-minute mark.
Vital and Adams make up the top scoring pair in the conference at 34.3 points but were held to 18. They both scored nine on 5-of-17 shooting from the field but went 7 of 7 from the foul line, where the Huskies finished 10 of 11.
UConn is home Saturday against No. 8 Cincinnati.
UCF remains at home to face Houston on Saturday.