Streak continues with loss to Pirates
Published: Sunday, February 6, 2011
Updated: Sunday, February 6, 2011 16:02
It wasn't forty minutes of the same old story Saturday evening in Greenville, N.C.
As the Knights continued to look for a way to win and pull themselves out of their nosedive, all it took was ten minutes of an inability to respond to a big run.
But for UCF that ten-minute stretch and the 22-5 tilt it produced was more than enough to propel the East Carolina Pirates to a 68-61 win and season sweep of the Knights, who have now dropped seven consecutive.
It was especially difficult to take in for UCF (14-7, 1-7) because they came out and played well in the first half, going into halftime up 39-34.
"I thought we played hard in the first half. I thought we were right where we needed to be," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said in a release.
The halftime lead was quickly erased, though, as the Pirates (13-10, 5-4) went on the big run. When it was all said and done, ECU found themselves up 56-44 midway through the second half.
The Knights worked away at the lead, cutting it to as little as three, but a lack of defensive execution allowed ECU to score four consecutive, taking a 59-56 lead and extending it to 63-56 with 2:41 to go. That four-point swing was enough to silence the Knights.
Marcus Jordan had a game-high 24 points for the Knights, with only A.J. Tyler registering double digits with 10 points.
"I thought Marcus really did a good job of keeping us in the game," Jones said. "We needed somebody else at times tonight, and it was unfortunate we weren't able to get that."
Standout-sophomore Keith Clanton was quiet for the night, scoring only six points in a game where his team desperately needed more production from the big man.
The Knights poor three-point shooting continued as well, with UCF going 2 of 13 from beyond the arc.
Jontae Sherrod led ECU with 23 points, an impressive effort the Knights seemed unable to stop. Twelve of Sherrod's points came off of three pointers. The Pirates, in stark contrast to their opponents, as a team hit nine three pointers, as the Knights perimeter defense continues to struggle following the UAB loss last week in which UCF allowed the Blazers to shoot 50 percent from long distance, totaling 30 points.
Looking ahead to Memphis
UCF now heads into the biggest home game on its schedule without any momentum: The Knights welcome the Memphis Tigers (17-6, 5-3) to the UCF Arena on Wednesday.
The last time these two teams met, nearly two weeks ago, UCF never put up much of a fight after the first ten minutes and the Tigers easily handled the Knights 77-61. Will Barton, the leading scorer for the Tigers this season, led all scorers with 17 points.
UCF will have the advantage of home court on their side but how much else remains to be decided, with the more athletic Tigers posing multiple match-up problems for the Knights. Last time they met, UCF could not slow a potent Memphis scoring attack that created 47 points worth of offense in just the first half.
The losing streak is a problem Jones and his staff say they are prepared to address.
"We continue to coach them positively," Jones said. "We're trying to build a program here not just a good team this year."
While the Knights are coming off another loss, the Tigers are coming off a 62-58 win over Gonzaga. Memphis pulled out a close win Saturday in a game where their bench outscored Gonzaga's 44-19. Should Memphis' reserves make another such effort, it could spell big problems for the Knights, who have struggled to find production from its role players in recent games.
The Knights had only 12 bench points Saturday night.
UCF has never beaten Memphis. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS College Sports Network.