Central Florida Knights vs. Iowa State Cyclones Pick & Prediction MARCH 2nd 2024

Demarion Watson is coming off a career-best game as a scorer with 15 points in Iowa State’s 58-45 win over Oklahoma on Wednesday night.

The sophomore guard will look to keep that momentum going when the No. 8 Cyclones (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) hit the road for a conference contest against UCF (15-12, 6-9) on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

Known more for his defense, Watson received a jolt of confidence at the other end of the court after his 7-of-7 shooting performance against the Sooners.

“Defensively, be that stopper guy on the team (and) lock up, and then offensively, keep it simple; cut, get offensive rebounds and just play my game and stay confident in what I do,” Watson said of his roles on the team.

Watson has played in 27 games this season and averages just 2.1 points, but proved he can be another option for Iowa State, which enters the weekend in second place in the Big 12 standings — one game behind Houston with three games to play in the regular season.

Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger thought his team played its best defensive game of the year by holding Oklahoma to a season low in points.

“I think it was our best 40-minute defensive effort of the season,” Otzelberger said.

A strong Iowa State defense could be bad news for UCF, which is coming off a 77-71 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

The Knights rank near the bottom in scoring in the conference, averaging 72.2 while Iowa State averages 77.2 points per game.

Like the Cyclones, the Knights have won their last two and return home where they are 11-5.

UCF overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to beat the Cowboys. Darius Johnson led the way with 15 points.

The Knights shot 6-for-16 from 3-point range but are shooting just 31.9 percent from beyond the arc this season.

But the 3-point shot isn’t what the Knights are focused on.

“That’s not what we want to do,” coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We want to ground and pound, move the basketball, attack. And when we have open looks, we know we are capable of making them.”

UCF is led by Jaylin Sellers and Johnson, who are averaging 16.3 and 14.3 points per game, respectively. Sellers is ranked among the best scorers in the league and has knocked down 47 3-pointers.

Keshon Gilbert is the scoring leader for the Cyclones, averaging 13.9 points per game. He has connected 29 times from long range while dishing out 117 assists.

Tamin Lipsey is putting up 12.7 points per game and has the third-most steals in a season at Iowa State, racking up 75 to go along with his team-leading 141 assists.

Milan Momcilovic (11.5) and Curtis Jones (10.3) are both averaging in double figures as well for the Cyclones, who are unbeaten at home this year at 17-0 but are just 4-4 in true road games.

–Field Level Media

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