North Carolina A&T had a clear strategy in place for the game tonight against UCF: play a 2-3 zone and double-team Keith Clanton any time he touched the ball in the paint and force UCF to shoot the Aggies out of the zone defense. For most of the first half, the strategy worked out perfectly as Clanton could not get anything going inside while none of the Knights could hit an open shot from the outside. The Aggies used the strategy to take an early 21-15 lead before brothers Jordan hit a series of three point shots to open up that zone and the scoring for the Knights who went on a blistering 20-6 run to change the flow of the game.
UCF went 9 for 27 from the three-point arc led by Marcus Jordan who hit five and was joined by his brother, Clanton, and P.J. Gaynor from the outside arc. The three-point shot has not been a strong weapon for the Knights thus far in non-conference play as the team sorely misses Isaac Sosa’s accuracy from the outside who took his talents to upstate New York (Canisius). Tonight’s 27 attempts from beyond the arc were the second highest total on the season trailing only the 30 attempts taken in the blowout loss to Florida State in early November.
The Knights had four double-digit scorers on the night as Clanton chipped in 13, Gaynor 11, and Isaiah Sykes added 10. Sykes had another strong all-around game coming off his efforts against Bethune Cookman as he had eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals in this contest along with two crowd-pleasing dunks. Jeff Jordan had his best game as a Knight with 28 quality minutes scoring nine points on key shots while dishing out six assists.
Next up for UCF will be a tough Old Dominion team that has an RPI of 111 and a 5-4 record that includes losses to two top-ten RPI teams in Northern Iowa and Kentucky as well as two-point loss to Vermont. In their last game on December 9th, they defeated Fairfield 59-51. The Monarchs are led in scoring by junior Nick Wright at 12.2 points a game and by Chris Cooper who is averaging a double-double through nine games this season.