Three games into the season, the University of Central Florida Knights have still not fielded their complete team on the court, but they put together their best effort of the season in defeating a High Point Panthers team that came two points short in pulling off an upset against Purdue earlier this week. The Knights have had to deal with several roster issues regarding violation of team rules and in the case of starting point guard A.J. Rompza, eligiblity issues, but had everyone but Rompza last night in the 12 point victory over the Panthers.
The Knights were led by last year's dynamic duo of Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton who combined for 41 points and 70 minutes of play. Jordan, playing his first home game of the season, took over the game in the second half giving UCF some important three-point field goals to take High Point out of its preferred defensive scheme of the 2-3 zone. Clanton had 20 of the 21 points, 15 rebounds (7 offensive) and 2 more blocked shot. Clanton is now just three rebounds shy of becoming just the eleventh player in school history to have 500 more more rebounds in their playing career at UCF. Former Oregon Ducks forwoard Josh Crittle made his first appearance in a UCF uniform and had an impressive debut scoring 10 points in just 14 minutes while pulling down five rebounds, 4 on the offensive end. UCF will need both Clanton and Crittle to play big on the inside as the team adjusts to the graduation of 7'1" Tom Herzog and 6'9" A.J. Tyler who were a critical part of the team's defensive efforts in the paint last season.
The most impressive part of the game was the work at the free throw line and limiting turnovers. In its two previous games against St. Thomas and Florida State, the Knights were shooting just 34 for 67 from the free throw line and committed 34 turnovers. In last night's contest, UCF was 24 for 30 from the free-throw line and committed just six turnovers on the evening.
The Knights are not going to see much time off during the holiday week like most people are, but do not feel too much pity for them. They are heading to the Bahamas for the three-day Battle of Atlantis tournament at the infamous Atlantis resort. Their first draw is the College of Charleston which is a bit ironic given that the first win in school history against a ranked opponent came against that school in 2002 when both schools were rivals in the Atlantic-Sun conference. The College of Charleston is coming off a successful 26-11 season that saw them make the NIT quarterfinals and fall to eventual tournament champion Wichita State. This tournament also features UMass, Florida State, UCONN, UNC-Asheville, Harvard, and Utah. If UCF is able to win that first game, they would face a potential rematch against the Seminoles who they just played on November 13th or face a UMass squad that they defeated last December in Orlando.
UCF's Athletic Association was kind enough to share this post-game press conference when the media had an opportunity to ask questions of Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton.
UCF MBB Postgame Press Conference - Nov. 18, 2011.MP4 (via UCFAA)