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South Florida, UCF set for 'War on I-4' rematch

The South Florida Bulls and Central Florida Knights are set for another battle of "The War on I-4" Wednesday with the latter trying to even the season series.

After playing in Tampa on Jan. 2, the two schools will square off in Orlando, home of the Knights, in an effort to end their regular seasons on a positive note before heading to the American Athletic Conference tournament.

On Tuesday, the Bulls (7-7, 3-5) will be playing for just the third time after a lengthy bout of COVID-19 forced a 31-day hiatus within the program and prompted the postponement of six AAC contests.

The results since their return to action on Feb. 10 have not been what coach Brian Gregory was seeking.

The Bulls dropped a matchup, 82-65, to the then-No. 8 Cougars and followed that up with a Valentine's Day heartbreaker, 62-59, to Tulane.

South Florida's problems didn't come in a heart-shaped box on Sunday, but it did turn out to be quite a surprising gift to the Green Wave.

The Bulls committed a season-high 18 turnovers and lost a close one despite dominating the board by a 16-rebound margin.

"That's 18 possessions that you have the ball that you don't even get a shot up," said Gregory of the sloppy ball-handling. "When you lose a one-possession game, it really highlights it even more.

"We'll learn a lot about the fight and character of everybody within the program, because it's not easy," said Gregory, whose group closes the regular season with five of six games on the road.

UCF (6-11, 4-10) will look to avenge a 68-61 loss to the Bulls to start 2021, and it will have to put aside a pair of one-point losses in its last three outings.

Sandwiched around a 53-49 win over Tulane, the Knights fell 61-60 in Wednesday's home game against Wichita State and 69-68 at Cincinnati on Sunday -- tough setbacks for a team trying to regain its footing.

In Cincinnati, UCF coach Johnny Dawkins set up potential game-tying trey for Darius Perry in the final seconds, but the shot was unsuccessful.

"We've been riding (Perry), and he's been very good for us in these type of situations," Dawkins said of Perry, who is averaging a team-best 14.4 points per game. "We rode with him again tonight and came up a little short.

"I don't fault anyone. We closed the game pretty well considering everything we were battling."

--Field Level Media