ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF made some big defensive stops when it mattered Wednesday to knock off Southern Miss, 60-58, at the UCF Arena and snap the Golden Eagles' 10-game winning streak. UCF held the Golden Eagles to just one field goal in the final 10 minutes of the contest.
After Isaiah Sykes made a pair of free throws with 14.6 seconds left to give the Knights (16-6, 6-2 Conference USA) a 2-point edge, the hosts made two stops to preserve the win.
With four seconds remaining, Keith Clanton raced across the court to swat a Jerrold Brooks' 3-point attempt into the stands and after a timeout, UCF clamped down again to force a missed three by Neil Watson as time expired.
"I am really proud of our kids. They bounced back after a tough loss at Marshall," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "Our kids have done this all year long. I knew it was going to be a grind-out game. What a great effort by our guys against a terrific Southern Miss squad."
The loss was the first since Dec. 22 for Southern Miss (18-5, 7-1), who is receiving top-25 votes.
Tristan Spurlock led the hosts with a game-high 18 points and Sykes added 12 points. Clanton finished with seven blocks and nine boards. The senior is now tied for first on the UCF career rebounds chart with 942.
After leading 33-31 at the break, UCF limited the Golden Eagles to 27.6 percent shooting in the second half. Southern Miss led by five points with five minutes to play, but the Knights mounted a quick 6-0 run to take the lead and went up 54-53 with 3:20 on the clock after Sykes chased down a steal and found Calvin Newell for a dunk.
UCF shot 40.0 percent overall and blocked 11 shots for the game. Newell totaled 13 points and Matt Williams hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points off the bench.
Jonathan Mills led Southern Miss with 15 points.
The Knights were back in Orlando after playing a pair of road games last week. UCF defeated Tulane, 58-50, Wednesday, before having its four-game winning streak come to an end Saturday when Marshall pulled away late for a 75-71 victory.
UCF will continue its two-game homestand Saturday when it hosts East Carolina at 4 p.m.