The students' perspective on Villanova Sports.

Game Preview: Central Florida Knights

-Alex Menendez/Getty Images

-Alex Menendez/Getty Images

#3 Villanova Wildcats (4-0) vs. UCF Knights (3-0)
When: Sunday, November 20th, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Where: TD Arena, Charleston, S.C.
Coverage: ESPN2
KenPom Prediction: 78-62, Villanova (93%)
UCF’s Previous Season Record: 12-18
Key Players for UCF: #24 Tacko Fall (7-6, 300) So. C; #0 Tanksley Efianayi (6-6, 210) Sr., SG; #1 B.J. Taylor (6-2, 200) So., PG

Scouting Report: UCF has rolled through their season thus far, winning all of their games by at least a 20 point margin. Leading the way for the Knights has been Senegalese prodigy Tacko Fall, who’s averaging an impressive 17.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks. Standing at an intimidating 7-foot-6, Fall is the tallest basketball player around, and it’s no surprise that his size has dominated throughout the Charleston Classic–blocking 15.3 percent of all shots taken by his opponents inside the arc. Fall has only played basketball for three years, and because of this is still incredibly raw, racking up over five fouls per 40 minutes last year. His size will almost certainly at least get him a tryout in the NBA, but if his discipline improves, he could be a generational defensive talent. However, as a player now, Fall is decidedly incomplete. He is very slow, even for someone of his size, and hasn’t quite figured out how to leverage his size into bullying smaller defenders in the post. It seems that he has improved this so far in his sophomore season, but is still a liability. Central Florida does not just revolve around its size in the paint, however. The backcourt duo of B.J. Taylor  and Tanksley Efianayi are both are agile finishers at the rim, and Taylor has an effective jumper from beyond the arc as well (44 percent so far this year). Without Taylor last year, the Knights shot 32% from three, so if Taylor has an off night, almost all of UCF’s points will need to come in the paint, where Efianayi excels. His go-to move is a pull-up jumper around the blocks, but that jumper is spotty outside of 15 feet or so. Also keep an eye out for Matt Williams, a crafty fifth-year senior who has been a consistent presence for UCF since their Conference-USA days, and Nick Banyard, a graduate transfer at his third school (previous stops at New Mexico and Illinois State), who is a talented rebounder to pair with Fall in the frontcourt.

Outlook: Fall is the key for UCF if they want any chance to win tomorrow. He provides a size advantage against any team, let alone one against a team that’s undersized as Villanova. In order for the Knights to stay competitive, Fall will need to have the game of his life. Jay Wright knows the Wildcats can’t match his size, but will probably play Fordham transfer Eric Paschall heavy minutes in an attempt to expose his lack of mobility. Paschall has impressed coming off the bench, showcasing his versatility and athleticism. He’s drawn the defensive assignment of taking on opposing team’s biggest men, like Issac Haas over at Purdue. Expect Paschall and Kris Jenkins to be playing most of the time, with starting center Darryl Reynolds rotating in if either gets into foul trouble. UCF is stout defensively, but Villanova has a much better offense than the likes of Nicholls State, Mississippi State, and Charleston. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? In all likelihood, a relatively easy 5-0 start for Villanova and the Charleston Classic championship.

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About The Author

Eugene Rapay '16 created "The Bench Mob" in November 2013. He joined the Villanova Times in 2012 as a writer. A Westchester, NY native, who will bring top quality coverage of all things Villanova sports.

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