March Opens With Mustangs at Moody

Feb. 28, 2014

MEN'S BASKETBALL - UCF (11-15, 3-12) at No. 23/24 SMU (22-6, 11-4)
 Date | Time Saturday, March 1 | 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET
 Location Moody Coliseum - Dallas, Texas - Directions
UCF Tickets UCF Tickets at | By Phone: 407.823.1000
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 Radio 740 The Game - Pregame at 3:30 p.m. ET
 Live Stats Live Stats Available Via Gametracker
 Game Notes UCF | SMU
 Official Web Sites UCF | SMU
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The Last Meeting
January 18, 2014
Orlando, Fla.
The UCF Knights lost leading scorer Isaiah Sykes early in the second half of Saturday's contest with SMU. The Mustangs took advantage and galloped to a 58-46 victory.

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By Andy Seeley

ORLANDO, Fla. ( -- The Knights hit the road once again Saturday to face yet another Top 25 team in the American Athletic Conference. UCF visits No. 23/24 SMU for a 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET tipoff at Moody Coliseum.

SMU enters the game with a 22-6 overall record and an 11-4 mark in American Athletic Conference action. The Mustangs defeated nationally-ranked UConn 64-55 on the road this past Sunday and have been off ever since.

UCF is 11-15 overall and 3-12 in conference action. The Knights recorded their biggest comeback victory in more than two years in their last outing. UCF came back from 15 points behind to defeat Rutgers 67-65 Wednesday at CFE Arena. Tristan Spurlock matched a career-high with 23 points in the win. 

Earlier this season, UCF dropped a 58-46 decision to SMU. It was the Knights' lowest offensive output of the season.


Close Shaves
• Five of UCF's last seven games have been decided by six points or less.
• The Knights are 2-3 in those five games.
• The stretch of close games started with a one-point, overtime loss to USF on Feb. 5. It included a last-second, one-point win over the Bulls and Wednesday night's come-from-behind 67-65 win over Rutgers.

American Gladiators
• The Knights have had to really run the gauntlet in their first season in The American.
• Including Saturday's game at SMU, 10 of the Knights' 16 opponents so far in league play are either currently ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes.
• The Knights had stretches of three straight and five-of-six games vs. Top 25 opponents earlier in conference play.
• Just 10 years ago, UCF was in the Atlantic Sun, which is currently the No. 23 RPI league in the country. For the last eight years, the Knights were in Conference USA, which is currently No. 13. The American Athletic Conference is No. 8.  

Don't Call It A Comeback
• UCF overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat Rutgers 67-65 Wednesday night at CFE Arena. It was the biggest comeback win for the Knights this season.
• It was the first double-digit comeback win since Feb. 6, 2013, when UCF trailed by 10 and defeated Southern Miss 60-58.
• Wednesday's win was the largest deficit overcome in a UCF victory since Nov. 24, 2011, when the Knights were down by 17 to UConn and won 68-63 at the Battle 4 Atlantis.


Jack of All Trades, Master of Many
• 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 points, rebounds, assists, minutes played, field goals made/ attempted, free throws made/attempted and fouls. He is second on the squad in steals.
• Sykes, who led the country with a pair of triple-doubles in 2012-13, bolstered his scoring average with a career-best and team season-high 29 points at Rutgers on Jan. 15, in addition to his 27 at USF on Feb. 15. He has reached the 20-point plateau eight times this season, and did so in both outings against the rival Bulls.  
• He played just 21 minutes in the win against Rutgers Wednesday, due to foul trouble, but he still scored 14 and led the team with seven rebounds.

Among The Best
• Sykes moved to No. 8 on the UCF career scoring list after the 27-point effort at USF on Feb. 15. He now has 1,446 points in 122 contests.
• Sykes is also among the program's all-time leaders in rebounds (4th, 733), steals (5th, 172) and assists (5th, 325).
• He and Jerry Prather (1974-78) are the only Knights in the UCF career Top 10 for points, rebounds, steals and assists.
• Sykes is one of just four Knights ever to record 1,000 points and 700 rebounds.

Big Mac Attack
• Prior to last the Feb. 9 game vs. UConn, 6-foot 10-inch, 310-pound freshman Justin McBride hadn't scored a point or played more than three minutes in four games of action.
• That all changed against the Huskies. McBride saw 13 minutes of action and scored 13 points, all in the second half. He was 5-of-6 from the field and 3-of-5 from the line. He also grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot in the contest.
• The big fella made continued to make a huge (no pun intended) impact, earning American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week honors on Feb. 17.
• McBride scored six points and grabbed seven boards in 16 minutes at Memphis. He tallied 13 points and five boards in the win over USF. He also cleared the way to the glass for Isaiah Sykes' game-wnning bucket with a screen near the top of the key.
• He added eight points and five rebounds (both totals were No. 2 on the team) vs. Cincy.
• McBride tallied his third double-digit performance in his last six games, going for 10 points at Houston on last Saturday.
• McBride was only cleared for practice on Jan. 4, after coming off ACL reconstruction.

Spurring Them On
Tristan Spurlock was up and down through much of American Athletic Conference play, but has put together four big outings together in his last five games.
• Spurlock matched a career-best with 23 points in Wednesday's win over Rutgers, marking his sixth 20-point performance of the season.
• He scored a game-high 21 points Saturday at Houston.
• Spurlock scored 18 points and grabbed 10 boards at Memphis on Feb. 12, recording a double-double.
• He hadn't recorded back-to-back double-digit scoring games in conference play prior to the Feb. 15 game at USF. But he posted 16 points and eight boards vs. the Bulls.
• He has now scored in double digits in seven of 15 American Athletic Conference games.
• Spurlock is the team's second-leading scorer (11.7 ppg). At .792, Spurlock leads the Knights in free-throw percentage.
• He is the only Knight regular above 70 percent from the charity stripe.