Taking On The Tigers

Jan. 28, 2014

UCF vs Memphis Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Watch ESPN Link | Buy Tickets

Isaiah Sykes and the Knights host Memhpis Wednesday night

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By Andy Seeley

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) -- Since opening the home portion of their American Athletic Conference schedule with a victory over Temple, the Knights have been searching for a second conference win. UCF (9-8, 1-5) willl try to pick up that victory when it hosts No. 22-ranked Memphis (15-4, 5-2) Wednesday at CFE Arena.

The Knights are 1-14 all-time against Memphis. But that lone victory is a memorable -- and recent -- one. UCF recorded one of its most exciting victories in the history of CFE Arena on Jan. 18, 2012, when Keith Clanton converted an old-fashioned three-point play with four seconds remaining to lift the Knights to a 68-67 victory over the Tigers.

UCF will look to recapture some of that magic when this year's Memphis squad comes calling at CFE Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff. It's the second in a stretch of three straight games against natinonally-ranked opponents for the Knights. It is also the second in a stretch where they will face Top 25 teams in five of six games. So opportunities for season-defining victories will be plentiful over the next few weeks.

The Knights are coming off a 69-51 loss at nationally-ranked Cincinnati. UCF played toe-to-toe with the Bearcats for the entire first half, trailing 30-27 at the break. But the Bearcats opened the second half with an 18-5 run to take control of the contest. Calvin Newell scored 12 points to lead the Knights in that contest, while Staphon Blair scored a career-high 11. Memphis defeated USF 80-58 in its last outing.

Here are some more notes and nuggets of information leading up to Wednesday night's contest:


• UCF is averaging 62.7 points per game in American Athletic Conference play, after scoring at a clip of 80 points per contest in non-league action.

• The Knights were allowing an average of nearly 84 points per game to conference foes through the first four league games. UCF has clamped down on defense, holding its last two opponents to just 62.5 points per game.

• UCF remains the top rebounding squad in the American Athletic Conference. The Knights average 39.9 rebounds per contest. UCF has tallied more rebounds than its opponent in 10 of its 17 contests. 

Jack of All Trades

• In addition to being the only player in the American Athletic Conference in the Top 15 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and field-goal percentage, Isaiah Sykes leads the Knights in many statistical categories.

• The senior, who was selected to the American Athletic Conference All-Preseason 2nd Team, is tops on the Knights in scoring, rebounding, assists, field goals made/attempted and free throws made/attempted. He is second on the squad in minutes played and steals.

• Sykes, who led the country with two triple-doubles in 2012-13, bolstered his scoring average with a career-best and team season-high 29 points at Rutgers on Jan. 15. He has reached the 20-point plateau five times this season.  

Climbing the Charts

• Sykes moved to No. 11 on the UCF career scoring list after last Thursday's game at Cincinnati. He now has 1,286 points in 113 contests.

• He needs only nine more points to enter the UCF Top 10.

• Sykes is also among the program's all-time leaders in rebounds (6th, 655), steals (6th, 159) and assists (8th, 291)

Bouncing Back

• After missing the road trip to Rutgers on Jan. 15 and going scoreless off the bench vs. SMU on Jan. 18, senior guard Calvin Newell led the Knights in scoring vs. Cincinnati after coming off the bench once again.

• He scored a team-high 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers, against the Bearcats.

• His 12 points vs. the Bearcats marked his first time back in double digits since Dec. 11 vs. Howard, when he tallied 19. He had averaged just more than 6 points per game since that contest.

• Despite that scoring slump, Newell is still the Knights' second-leading scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game.

Staphon Starts

• Sophomore big man Staphon Blair was in the starting lineup Thursday at Cincinnati for the first time since Dec. 3 at FAU. It was his fifth start of the season.

• He responded to his promotion with one of his best games as a Knight. He scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, grabbed three boards and blocked two shots in 23 minutes of action before fouling out.