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When a team has more losses than wins, the playoffs are usually out of the picture, but college basketball is bit different than some other sports.

UCF, as well as the remaining 10 American Athletic Conference teams, will receive an automatic berth into the AAC tournament in Hartford, Connecticut, beginning next Thursday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Knights sit ninth in the AAC, which means they look to face one of the top three teams in the first round.

Head coach Donnie Jones said if the team is going to make a deep run in the sudden-death style tournament, they may have to make a few changes.

"We've got to continue to push that and demand [defense]," he said. "Offensively, I don't think it's a problem scoring as much for us.

"We've got to play like there's no tomorrow."

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Jones' team has managed to put up an average of 66.3 points per game through 27 contests, which is good for third in the conference. The UCF defense is on the sharp side of the slope, though, as it is last in the conference, giving up an average 71.2 per game.

The Knights (12-16 overall, 5-12 conference) are on a three-game slide and have won just three out of their last 12, as of Wednesday afternoon.

But Jones is not too worried about the team's recent skid. He knows that they cannot get down on themselves because the toughest challenge of the season still awaits.

"I always used to hear coaches say, 'All these games are practice games until tournament time," Jones said. "They've got to realize it's one and done [in the AAC tournament]."

The Knights know that it will take a lot of hard work to get through each of the four possible rounds, but believe they have what it takes to redeem the sub-par ending to their regular season.

"These guys are probably the most mature group of freshmen I've ever seen in my life," senior Kasey Wilson said. "They can do it all."

Freshman Adonys Henriquez understands the tournament's importance, not only to himself, but his to his teammates as well.

"It's not only going to be [Wilson's] last game, but it's going to be my last game for this season, so you want to finish out with a bang," Henriquez said. "We know it's just a one-game season, so we've got to take it as this is our last go-around every time we play."

In the win-or-go-home tournament, the scope is magnified as the winner of the entire thing receives automatic entry into the NCAA's 68-team tournament, commonly referred to as March Madness.

"That's the beauty of March. You can throw all the records out the door and you've still got a chance to get into the NCAA tournament," Jones said.

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Jarrod Heil is a Senior Staff Writer for the

Central Florida Future

. Find him on Twitter@JHeil11.

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