Knights hold off Herd, win 67-60
Four players score in double digits to lead UCF past rival Marshall
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 22:02
That was the story as the Knights (18-6, 7-3) added another win to their record, defeating the rival Marshall Thundering Herd (14-10, 5-5), 67-60, on Wednesday night.
"There were three most important keys to winning the game and that's rebounding, rebounding and rebounding," head coach Donnie Jones said afterwards.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Sykes is no stranger to crashing the boards, picking up 10 rebounds on the night.
"It's just a part of what coach always teaches to the threes, fours and fives [small forwards, power forwards and centers] and sometimes even the guards go in and try to rebound, hit the offensive glass," Sykes said
Four Knights scored in double digits despite and junior forward Keith Clanton had a big game by leading the team with a game-high 20 points. While he was efficient in his shooting efforts, going eight-for-16 from the field, Clanton also grabbed seven rebounds, handed out three assists and added a block and a steal to the stat sheet.
The Knights got off to a 12-2 run to start off the second half, even though they were two points down at the end of the first half, 28-30.
The lead UCF would build, as many as 14 points, nearly disappeared towards the end of the game when Marshall's Damier Pitts nailed a 3-pointer to cap a Herd rally. Still, the Knights were poised down the stretch.
With two seconds left on the shot clock and 14.7 second left in the game, junior guard Marcus Jordan hit a pivotal 3-point shot to extend the lead from two points to five, effectively sealing the deal for UCF.
"I didn't think at any point in the game that we were going to lose the game," Jordan said. "I mean, obviously, we want to win and it's a mindset that coach Jones has kind of instilled in us to expect to win no matter what happens. We knew we were going to get an open look, we executed and the shot went in."
Sophomore forward and sixth man Tristan Spurlock notably gave a nice lift off the bench, scoring 13 points while shooting an efficient 71.4 percent from the field. Spurlock dunked three times throughout the game, pumping up the crowd.
‘I think we outplayed them from the tip, so I think we knew how to execute down the stretch," Spurlock said.
Next, the Knights will look to even out the series against Southern Miss on Saturday at 5 pm. The Golden Eagles beat UCF earlier this season at the UCF Arena, with the Knights getting an opportunity at redemption when they travel west for a rematch.
"They definitely stole one from us out here," Spurlock said. "So we'll focus on our win [against Marshall] tonight and tomorrow we'll start focusing on preparing on [Southern Miss]."