From Staff Reports


 The University of Alabama basketball team started slowly, rallied, then went cold again at the end, losing 70-64 to the Central Florida Knights in Orlando on Thursday night.

 The Crimson Tide made just one field goal — a Herbert Jones layup — in the first 10 minutes of play and trailed 18-7 midway through the first half — but trimmed the lead to four points, 29-25, at the break.

 UA took its first lead of the game, 36-34, on a 3-point basket by Alex Reese with 16:54. But Alabama made just five of its 21 3-point attempts in the game, part of the reason that it faded down the stretch. The Crimson Tide was still within one possession, 61-59, with 3:15 to play but UCF scored the next five points to seal the win.

 “We got off to a very slow start,” Alabama head coach Avery Johnson. “We couldn’t make a shot. Their best shot in the first half was the free throw. It’s rare that a team shoots 30-plus (36) free throws on us and we only shoot 14. So we just fouled too much. But our slow starts are really becoming an issue.”

   Tacko Fall, the Knight’s 7-foot-6 center, did have an impact, scoring 10 points, blocking three shots and altering several more.  But it was the Knights’ guard tandem of B.J. Taylor (24 points) and Andre Dawkins (16 points) that carried the offense for UCF (6-1).

 Freshman Kira Lewis Jr. and forward Alex Reese, who came in off the bench, each scored 14 points for the Crimson Tide (5-2.) Donta Hall had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

 Alabama will be back in action on Tuesday, hosting Georgia State.