UAB’s win over UCF makes it six consecutive C-USA losses
Published: Sunday, January 30, 2011
Updated: Sunday, January 30, 2011 16:01
This just can't be what the doctor ordered.
The Knights (14-6, 1-6) are trying to regain their confidence and notch a slump-breaking victory, all while battling Conference USA's best teams, consecutively.
This past week was difficult for the Knights, already coming in to the week on a four game losing skid. The Knights lost to the UAB Blazers (15-5, 5-2) on Saturday night 74-69.
On Wednesday, UCF went to conference-powerhouse Memphis (16-5, 5-2) and was soundly defeated 77-61.
Unfortunately for the Knights over the weekend, UAB's shooting was lights out, going 50 percent from three-point range.
What's more troubling is that UCF hits the road again, this time traveling to El Paso, Texas, to take on the first-place UTEP Miners (15-5, 5-2).
The tough stretch of schedule has combined with the losing streak that started in Houston and has head coach Donnie Jones and his squad continuing their search for answers.
This past week was a tale of two very different games for the Knights.
UCF was hanging tough and competitive Wednesday night at Memphis for all of about 10 minutes before falling behind big in the first half and never really threatening to recover, with another sub-par shooting performance and no answer to Memphis' scoring attack.
The FedEx Forum is a tough place to win and the Knights are now 0-9 all-time against the Tigers.
Saturday's game with visiting UAB, however, is going to likely be seen as one that got away.
The Knights shot much better, going 48 percent from the field, 29 percent from beyond the arc, and 85 percent from the free-throw line. The Knights allowed the Blazers 10 of their 20 attempts from three-point range, accounting for thirty points. UCF was at a loss on how to stop UAB's potent sharp shooting from outside.
"We tried to go zone, we tried to play some match up, we tried to do some things and it seemed like every time we did that they got wide-open threes," Jones said.
The Knights could not take advantage of a career night from center Tom Herzog, who had 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Marcus Jordan had 15 points and Keith Clanton had 13 points, but the rest of the team went only eight for 21 from the field and UCF received only seven bench points.
The Knights held a five-point led with just over five minutes remaining but were outscored 15 to five the rest of the way.
"You got to get rebounds, guys got to make plays on those loose balls," Jones said. "We didn't do it. We played well enough to win the game tonight but that's not what happened.
"You got to finish the game."
The Knights will be on the road to take on the Miners on Wednesday night and will have to hope they fare better than their first trip to Texas, which included a loss to Houston that began their current slump.
In their way will be Miners star Randy Culpepper.
Culpepper is averaging 19.6 points per game and shooting 44 percent from the field, making him a player opposing coaches lose sleep over.
UCF players and fans should remember Culpepper.
The stand-out player torched the Knights last season on their home floor, lighting up the UCF Arena for 39 points on 13 of 20 shooting, including nine 3-pointers.
UCF is 3-4 all time against the Miners.
Despite the recent losing efforts, Jones says he is confident in his player's ability to be focused mentally and not let the losses wear on them.
"We continue to coach them positively," Jones said. "We're trying to build a program here not just a good team this year."
Marcus Jordan voiced a similar sentiment after Saturday's game.
"We just got to grind it out," Jordan said. "We're not quitting, we're not putting our heads down."