The UCF Knights came to Greenville knowing that they had lost their last four matchups against the East Carolina Pirates dating back to the 2009-2010 season. That streak included two losses during regular season conference play and a dominating performance by East Carolina to bounce UCF out of the Conference USA Tournament. Each member of the team now gets to hop on the team bus back to the airport in Raleigh with a big smile on their face as UCF convincingly beat East Carolina 81 to 63 at the Williams Arena in Greenville, North Carolina.
UCF was led in scoring by Isaiah Skyes who scored 20 points for the second time in his last four contests. Sykes was 10 of 15 shooting from the floor tonight and also added ten rebounds for his second double-double on the season and now has scored 61 points over his last four games. Three other Knights scored in double figures as Marcus Jordan scored 12, Keith Clanton scored 16, as did A.J. Rompza. Clanton's point total made him the 15th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000 point total and the first Knight to do so since former All-American Jermaine Taylor. Rompza, in addition to the 16 points, had nine assists, seven rebounds, and five steals in one of his best games as a UCF Knight.
The three areas where UCF won this game was in its outside shooting, its defense, and dominating the glass. UCF shot 52 percent from the field including 6 of 19 from behind the arc as East Carolina struggled to defend them in half-court sets as Sykes, Clanton, and Rompza were a combined 23 of 41 from the field. Conversely, the Knights held East Carolina to just 37 percent shooting from the floor and 7 of 23 from behind the arc while stealing eight passes. Most impressive was the Knights' rebounding efforts as they won the battle of the boards 46 to 29. This came against an East Carolina team that out-rebounded the Knights in two of the three games last season despite UCF having a size advantage with 7'1" center Tom Herzog in the lineup.
The 17 rebound advantage the Knights had in this contest was a school record within conference play besting a previous best of +14 against SMU during the 2009-2010 season. UCF returns home to face Houston on Wednesday night as assistant head coach Shawn Finney looks to go a perfect 3-0 as he stands in for suspended head coach Donnie Jones.
Finney has used a shallow rotation schedule in both games compared to the liberal substitution habits of Jones, but one cannot argue with the results so far. UCF has won two of their last three games against Houston but that one loss was the first of nine consecutive losses for UCF last season after they opened the season 14-0. UCF has had several entertaining games against the Cougars in Orlando since the two schools became conference mates including this winning 3-point shot by current director of basketball operations Mike O'Donnell during the 2006-2007 season.
UCF vs Houston 3 (via Jasrunner22)