Tonight, UCF celebrates the four year careers of A.J. Rompza and P.J. Gaynor but the celebration takes a back seat to what is at stake tonight in Orlando.
UCF hosts the UAB Blazers, who have won seven of their last eight games and have put themselves in position for the first-round bye guaranteed by finishing fourth in the Conference USA regular season standings where UCF currently sits. Simply put, the winner of the game tonight gets to stay home one extra day while the rest of the conference travels to Memphis to begin the Conference USA tournament at Fed Ex Forum this week.
These same two teams met in Birmingham on January 21st and the Knights won a sluggish and hard-fought game 48 to 41. UAB's only loss in their recent run is to conference-leading Memphis as they have cleaned up on the softer part of their schedule but also defeated Southern Miss by ten points and most recently knocked off Tulsa earlier this week.
UAB features the defending CUSA player of the year in Cameron Moore who is averaging 16.3 points per game as well as 10.5 points per contest. The 6'10 senior has scored 20 or more points in five of the last eight contests including 27 points against Southern Miss in early February. Jordan Swing is the only other player that scores in double figures and that duo scored 24 of the 41 points for the Blazers the last time these two teams squared off.
UCF has developed a bit of a pattern in recent weeks as they have yet to win, or lose, back to back games. They have continued to be world beaters at home as they have only lost one game this season at home this year while again struggling on the road during conference play. Isaiah Sykes has had double-double totals in three of his last six contests while Keith Clanton and Marcus Jordan have had recent struggles.
Clanton was held to just 6 of 15 shooting in the two losses to Southern Miss and Memphis while he has been more of his regular self in games against lesser opponents. Jordan had an awful month of shooting in February as he was 21 of 57 (37 percent) and was a non-factor in the blowout loss to Memphis going just 1 of 6 in 33 minutes of play. The Knights will need all three players to have their usual efforts in tonight's crucial game as the bench depth is still rather non-existent which is why the first round bye is crucial to both of these teams.