The game lived up to the billing. It was an intense and physical battle that came down to the final shot with UCF falling short 65-64 in front of a sold out and raucous Cam Henderson Center.
UCF held a 7-5 lead four minutes into the game and did not lead again until Josh Crittle converted a layup with 94 seconds remaining to give the Knights a 62-61 lead. The teams traded two more shots and UCF had a 64-63 lead with 29 second remaining. Marcus Jordan, who struggled all night long, missed the front end of a one-and-one giving the ball back to Marshall. The Thundering Herd called a time out and ran a set play which resulted in a questionable call 20 feet away from the basket and put DeAndre Kane on the line in the double-bonus and he hit both free throws for a 65-64 lead.
UCF got down the court in time for a Jordan layup attempt that missed and an attempted putback by Crittle that was stolen away at the buzzer. Jordan was just 3 of 17 from the field on the evening and 0 for 5 from behind the arc while shooting just 3 of 6 from the free throw line. Despite the struggles, he became the 16th player in school history to score 1000 points in his career.
UCF shot 42 percent from the floor but was just 5 of 20 from behind the arc and lost the rebounding battle by nine. Marshall came into this game as one of the leading rebounding teams in the country and was the best offensive rebounding team in the country averaging ten more boards on the offensive glass than their opponents. Both teams are two worst free throw shooting teams in Conference USA, and Marshall was just 12 of 25 from the line in this game which allowed UCF to claw its way back from several seven point deficits in the second half of the contest.
UCF was led in scoring by Keith Clanton who had 14 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out of the contest. Tristan Spurlock rebounded from a tough game against Houston to score 12 points and grab 5 rebounds while Isaiah Sykes finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
UCF comes home to take on Memphis at 8pm on CBS College Sports TV Wednesday night. Last year’s game in Orlando went to Memphis who hit a 3-point shot in the closing seconds of the game to win 63-62.
Marshall remains a top of Conference USA with a perfect 4-0 record and could be in sole possession of that spot pending the outcome of the Memphis/Houston game tonight in Texas.