ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Playing against a Middle Tennessee State squad that won 27 games a year ago, the UCF men's basketball team suffered its first non-league home loss since 2009 on Tuesday, falling 75-61. The Blue Raiders, who advanced to the 2012 postseason NIT quarterfinals, used a big second half to pull away from the Knights (3-1).
After the hosts led 33-30 at the break, the Blue Raiders (3-1) outscored the Knights 45-28 after intermission when they shot 60.0 percent overall and made 6-of-9 attempts from 3-point range.
UCF entered the game having won 22-consecutive non-conference games at the UCF Arena and had not lost to a non-league foe at home under head coach Donnie Jones.
Middle Tennessee State used a 20-4 run midway through the second half to take the lead and never look back. The Blue Raiders hit three 3-pointers during the spurt, including a pair from Raymond Cintron. A triple by Neiko Hunter at the 6:05 mark capped the run and gave the Blue Raiders a 64-50 edge.
"(They) are a very good basketball team," Jones said. "Give them credit. That is a veteran team. I can see how they won 25-plus games last year. I knew that this would be a tough task for us here tonight, especially since we are a little under-handed with guard play. It is a process with this team."
UCF was playing its second of three games this week. The squad defeated visiting Savannah State Sunday and will conclude the week Friday in Gainesville against No. 7 Florida.
Tristan Spurlock paced the Knights with a career-high 17 points, plus eight rebounds. Keith Clanton added 15 points, eight boards, a career-high seven assists and four blocks. Both upperclassmen played 39 minutes. Isaiah Sykes, who entered the game averaging 21.0 points, played just 21 minutes before fouling out and finished with seven points.
The Blue Raiders had notable victories last season over UCLA, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Five Middle Tennessee State players finished in double figures, led by Shawn Jones, who had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.