Knights Take Down Temple for First Win in The American

Jan. 4, 2014

Final Stats

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By Doug Richards

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ORLANDO, Fla. ( - Isaiah Sykes is playing his best basketball of the season at the right time. The senior guard nearly recorded a triple-double Saturday to help the UCF men's basketball team post its first American Athletic Conference victory, a 78-76 triumph over Temple at CFE Arena.

Sykes led the Knights (9-4, 1-1 The American) with 23 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. He recorded a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) in the first half, and then helped UCF make some key stops on the defensive end late. With the hosts leading by three points with a minute to go, he trapped Temple's (5-7, 0-2) Dalton Pepper in the corner, helping Calvin Newell deflect a pass and then dive for the steal.

"I am very proud of our guys, they grinded. I knew that this (Temple) team is well coached and has some very good players," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "We got off to a good start and they battled back, but we grinded. I was really proud of our guys."

The contest concluded a seven-game homestand for the Knights, who will return to action next Saturday at No. 17/15 UConn.

Temple's Will Cummings scored 20 of his game-high 31 points in the opening half, and Sykes did a better job defensively on the guard in the second stanza.

"I love competing and accepting the challenge," Sykes said. "Coach Jones asked me to step up and check [Cummings]. My focus was just to slow him down and contain him and my teammates did a good job being there on the help side and putting me in good position to stay in front of him."

UCF started the game strong and led 20-6 after a Sykes layup at the 13:47 mark. Temple responded with a 19-4 run and the teams went back and forth for most of the game. UCF led 40-38 at the break.

Sykes hit a pair of foul shots with 1:26 left on the clock to give UCF a 75-72 advantage.

UCF and Temple were meeting for the first time. The Knights made their debut in The American Tuesday, hosting No. 14/10 Louisville. Sykes totaled 19 points against the Cardinals.

Sykes was one of three Knights to finish with double digits in scoring. Eugene McCrory had career highs in points with 18 and rebounds with 10 and Kasey Wilson totaled 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

UCF finished with a 41-27 edge on the glass and shot 49.2 percent overall.