UCF Vs. Marshall: Knights Beat Struggling Thundering Herd, 67-60

The UCF Knights look for their third straight victory Wednesday, as they host the Marshall Thundering Herd in a Conference-USA men's basketball contest at the UCF Arena (7 p.m. on Bright House Sports Network).

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A Tale of Two Games in the Second Half

Whatever head coach Donnie Jones told the team at halftime worked because the UCF Knights were a completely different team in the second half from the one that played so poorly in the final ten minutes of the first half. The Knights owned every aspect of the second half for 15 minutes until Marshall went into rally mode that quickly became beast mode. UCF was up 14 points with 3:06 to go and then started raining three’s while the Knights tried to run clock and the game was 62-60 with just 16 seconds left. The Knights had to run an out-of-bounds play with just two seconds on the shot clock but Marcus Jordan was able to get off a 3-point shot just before the shot clock buzzer to give UCF a five-point lead with 14 seconds remaining and UCF was able to hold on for a 67-60 win at home.

UCF had four players in double figures tonight led by Keith Clanton who scored 20 on 8 of 16 shooting. Marcus Jordan, after an ice-cold first half, finished with 15 points while Isaiah Sykes also added 15 and Tristan Spurlock scored 13.

As a team, the Knights shot 46 percent from the floor while holding Marshall to just 39 percent shooting. The Knights allowed the Thundering Herd to rally thanks to poor free throw shooting as they were just 12 of 21 from the stripe. UCF did win the battle of the boards 40 to 36, which is notable as Marshall leads the nation in rebounding. The Knights won the battle of the paint 40 to 24 and had 20 second chance points tonight compared to 16 and 6 for Marshall.

Marshall’s DeAndre Kane deserves a ton of credit for even showing up tonight less than 24 hours after the sudden passing of his father. He was able to be a factor in the first half but was a non-factor in the second half and missed three crucial free throws as Marshall tried to rally back including airballing one. His teammates rallied their hearts out to try to give him a win to lift his spirits, but fell short in the end.

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Kane Available Tonight for Herd

According to a report by John Mulvaney of WSAZ Channel 3 in the Marshall area, DeAndre Kane has made it to Orlando and will be available tonight less than 24 hours after the passing of his father.

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What's At Stake Tonight for #UCF

UCF is looking to avenge a one-point loss to Marshall earlier in the season, a game which gained more notoriety from Marshall head coach Tom Herrion’s soccer-like flop as Isaiah Sykes passed him while Herrion was standing on the playing court. The action drew a technical foul on Sykes and gave Marshall two free throw attempts and the ball.

If the video linked above is not funny enough, please read the commentary from Chuck Landon who is already writing off a Marshall loss tonight to bad officiating. He claims the home team in Conference USA wins 75 percent of the games, but causation does not equal correlation and the long distances on CUSA road trips likely have more to do with that than any kind of officiating woes.

A win would allow UCF to secure its current fourth place spot in the Conference USA standings and an improbable win by East Carolina over Memphis would allow UCF to move into third place. As it now, UCF has already won as many conference games this season than it did all last season. UCF was a 7 point underdog at Marshall last month but is a 4.5 point favorite tonight. The line has moved up from 5 points, even with the news of Kane’s likely absence tonight.

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Kane May Miss Game

Marshall’s leading scorer, DeAndre Kane, did not make the team flight yesterday as he mourns the sudden passing of his father. Kane, who was recruited by now UCF head coach Donnie Jones, was a major factor in the victory against the Knights earlier this season in Huntington.

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