Dec. 11, 2010
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By Doug Richards
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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - At halftime of Saturday's game at the UCF Arena, with UCF leading a pesky Bethune-Cookman team by two points, Tom Herzog envisioned himself on the floor in the second half, helping lead the Knights to victory. Thankfully for UCF, Herzog did just that and as a result the Knights are now 8-0 after a 76-59 win over the Wildcats (4-5).
Hampered by a wrist injury, Herzog, a fifth-year senior who is in his first campaign at UCF after transferring from Michigan State, did not log a minute in the first half. But when head coach Donnie Jones inserted the 7-footer into the contest after intermission, Herzog made his presence felt. In 17 minutes, he totaled a career-best 14 points and matched a school record with eight blocked shots.
The big man was a big reason why the Knights, who are receiving votes in both national polls, forced Bethune-Cookman to shoot just 32.1 percent after intermission as the hosts outscored the Wildcats 38-23 in the final stanza.
Herzog, who has seen limited minutes in games, and has not been able to practice due to the injury he suffered in UCF's win over USF on Nov. 18, thought that his first block, a swat of a Garrius Holloman shot a minute into the second half, helped him get into a rhythm for the rest of the game.
"When you're fresh off the bench, it's nice to get a block because you get into the flow of the game right away. After that, there is no anxiety," he said.
UCF shot 66.7 percent in the first half, but the Wildcats hit five 3-pointers before the break to stay in the game. After Bethune-Cookman got within a point, 41-40, with 17:44 to go in the game, the Knights reeled off a 12-2 run to pull away. Herzog had six points during the spurt, which he capped with a layup at the 11:46 mark that gave UCF a 53-42 advantage.
"He changed the game," Jones said of Herzog.
Herzog was not the only UCF big man who played well against the Wildcats. Keith Clanton totaled 16 points and eight boards, and even dished out five assists, a few of them to Herzog.
"I gave Keith a big hug after the game because he was definitely looking out for me. He had a few looks, but passed the ball to me for some open looks underneath," Herzog said.
The Knights, who improved to 6-0 at home this year, have not lost a game under Jones. UCF shot 56.8 percent for the game Saturday, but did much of its damage at the line. The Knights made 20-of-23 (87.0 percent) of their attempts, with Clanton going 9-of-10.
Marcus Jordan also finished with double-digits in scoring as the sophomore guard totaled 15 points to go with four assists and four rebounds.
Alexander Starling led the Wildcats with 16 points.
The Knights will return to action Wednesday, hosting Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m.