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UCF travels to South Florida for intrastate rivalry

UCF's men's basketball team will carry on after a recent obstacle with COVID-19.

The Knights were scheduled to face Tulane on Wednesday night at home, but an issue surrounding the virus arose and forced the game's postponement.

The American Athletic Conference did not reveal which school was the source, but UCF proceeded with its athletics activities.

The Orlando school faces in-state rival South Florida -- in a series known as "The War on I-4" for the intrastate highway connecting the cities -- in Tampa on Saturday.

The Knights (3-2, 1-1) have been idle for over a week, but the team authored one of the season's best upsets when it knocked off then-No. 15 Florida State 86-74 on Dec. 19.

To upset the Seminoles and break their 27-game home winning streak, coach Johnny Dawkins' squad relied on Brandon Mahan, who notched a career-high 32 points -- 26 in the second half -- by going 10 of 13 from the field while draining all 10 free throws.

Mahan tops the AAC in scoring with 20.6 points per game.

"You saw a glimpse of (who he can be) tonight," Dawkins said. "He has the ability to make plays with the basketball in his hands for himself or his teammates. He can knock down shots from beyond the arc. I'm happy to see him starting to find his way."

The Bulls (5-4, 1-2), whose win Feb. 1 over UCF broke a nine-game losing streak to the rival, have lost consecutive close games to Wichita State and Memphis after having won five of their first seven.

Three days before Christmas, the culprit against the visiting Shockers was USF missing 14 of its 41 free throws in an 82-77 overtime defeat.

In Memphis on Tuesday, the Tigers' Lester Quinones sank a 3-pointer with 1:07 left, but 17 turnovers proved to be problematic, causing USF to blow a 12-point second-half lead with 9:59 left to play and lose 58-57.

The Bulls were led by Caleb Murphy, the most recent AAC Freshman of the Week, who went for a career-high 20 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, but who also committed seven turnovers.

USF played without big man Alexis Yetna (lower leg strain), who leads the team in rebounding (8.0 per game) and grids second in scoring (11.5).

"An area that we need to dramatically improve is our ability to handle pressure, be strong with the ball and make good decisions," USF coach Brian Gregory said. "We made some bad decisions."

--Field Level Media