ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Keith Clanton has plenty of freedom in Donnie Jones' pro-style offensive system. The UCF head coach wants his power forward to use his versatility. When opportunities are there for Clanton to score outside the paint, Jones expects Clanton to shoot from deep.
And on a night like Wednesday at the UCF Arena against Bethune-Cookman, where the Knights have a size advantage down low, the Orlando native is encouraged to do damage inside, and that is just what Clanton did in a 72-62 victory. The power forward shot 14-of-15 from the field on his way to a career-high 30 points and also added a game-high 13 rebounds to help UCF improve to 5-2.
Clanton did nearly all of his scoring inside the paint with an array of post moves and reverse layups, and also had a handful of powerful and-one baskets. He became the first Knight since Jermaine Taylor in 2009 to score at least 30 points.
"I was happy for Keith Clanton," Jones said. "I thought he had a good night. That was the (size) mismatch that we needed to focus on tonight. We did a good job getting him the ball."
UCF never trailed during the contest and held off a late Bethune-Cookman (4-7) rally. The Knights shot 61.5 percent overall and scored 58 of its points in the paint.
UCF was playing for the first time since Dec. 1 as the team had a long break for final exams. The contest marked the UCF debut for Calvin Newell, who sat out the last year after transferring from Oklahoma.
UCF led 38-28 at the break and built its edge to as many as 20 points in the second half. Bethune-Cookman refused to go away and got within eight points with 3:42 left in the game when Kevin Dukes hit a jumper. UCF answered on its next possession when Matt Williams nailed a 3-pointer to give the hosts a 68-57 edge. Bethune-Cookman got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Clanton was one of two Knights to record a double-double as Tristan Spurlock registered 10 points and 11 boards. Isaiah Sykes finished with 18 points in the win.
Clanton shot 93.3 percent from the paint, good for third on the UCF single-game field goal percentage list.
"I knew that I was bigger than the players that they were going to have matched up against me," Clanton said. "Coach said that we were going to work it inside-out. With them not doubling me or the double not coming that fast, coach just wanted me to be aggressive."
Adrien Coleman led the Wildcats with 19 points.
The Knights will have a short turnaround before their next game. Tomorrow, the squad will leave for Virginia, where it will face Old Dominion on Friday.