Black Friday could be used in a variety of ways to describe the start of yesterday. Some UCF fans could have been at a local Wal-Mart losing their minds over $2 waffle makers. Others may have looked at the final day of an extremely disappointing football season as an anti-climatic end to the season. A matchup against the 4th-ranked UCONN Huskies for the men's basketball team in Atlantis and the women's soccer team was in an Elite 8 matchup againt Wake Forest last night.
Three sporting events for the UCF fanbase to track with a variety of impacts occurred yesterday. Three months ago, nobody could have imagined that the football game would be lowest on the totem pole in terms of impact, but a win by the football team would mean finishing 5-7 instead of 4-8 again as it did after its first Conference USA title in 2007. A win by the women's soccer team would have given the school its first berth in the Final Four since the days when olympian Michelle Akers played for the school. A win against the UCONN Huskies would give the men's program its biggest win against a ranked opponent and arguably the biggest win by any UCF sporting team in school history given the fact the Huskies are the defending national champions and ranked fourth overall in the country.
Two out of three ain't bad - especially when one of those three gets national attention on ESPN.
The men's basketball team overcame a 17-point second half deficit to stun the Huskies 68-63 in The Battle of Atlantis as the dynamic duo of Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton once again led the charge with 40 of the Knights' 68 points. Guard Isaiah Sykes and forward Tristan Spurlock contributed 18 points and helped play some of the stifling mix of man and zone defense the Knights employed in the second half as they went on a 17-2 run and eventually took over the lead for good at 58-57.
Although UCF was outrebounded 36 to 27 by the taller and longer UCONN players, the Knights did not add salt to the wound with some of the same mistakes that led to their 23 point loss to Florida State earlier in the season. The Knights shot 17 of 21 from the free throw line and committed just seven turnovers on the game. Most telling of the uphill size battle the Knights were fighting is the fact Dwight McCombs and Josh Crittle had eight personal fouls in just 32 combined minutes of play as they battled with Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi on the inside.
The 4-1 Knights now take on undefeated Harvard who upset Florida State with a slow-paced game of ferocious defense.
The Knights' football team played the way many thought they would most of the season as they dominated the UTEP Miners 31-14 piling up 460 yards of offense and going up 31-0 early in the third quarter. Latavius Murray ran for the fourth highest total in school history gaining 233 yards on just 21 carries while scoring twice. The passing game was a very effective 14 for 18 for 211 yards but redshirt freshman Blake Bortles saw most of the snaps as starter Jeffrey Godfrey only played the first few series before being lifted for the game in front of 21,127 fans that lacked most of the students that typically fill the south endzone bleachers. Eight different receivers caught passes with the former walk-on J.J. Worton leading the way with 48 yards and several crowd-pleasing punt returns on a Senior Night that saw the Knights graduate a class of players that has helped deliver two conference championships, three bowl appearances, and the win in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.
The women's soccer team fell to Wake Forest 3-0 in Winston-Salem ending their rather improbable post-season run that saw them knock off the second-ranked Florida Gators and the third-ranked North Carolina Tarheels in the earlier rounds.