March 3, 2014
The Last Meeting
January 4, 2014
Knights Take Down Temple for First Win in The American
Isaiah Sykes is playing his best basketball of the season at the right time. The senior guard nearly recorded a triple-double Saturday to help the UCF men's basketball team post its first American Athletic Conference victory, a 78-76 triumph over Temple at CFE Arena.
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By Andy Seeley
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF men's basketball team makes its final road trip of the regular season early this week. The Knights travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple Tuesday evening at the Liacouras Center.
The Knights enter the game with an 11-16 record and a 3-13 mark in American Athletic Conference play, after dropping a 70-55 decision at SMU Saturday. Temple is 7-21 overall and 2-14 in league play. The Owls fell to Houston by a count of 89-79 in their last outing.
When the Knights and Owls get together Tuesday night, it will have been two months to the day since their first meeting of the season, the longest such stretch between conference opponents for UCF all season. The Knights won that first matchup 78-76 on the Blacktop at CFE Arena, behind a 23-point, 15-rebound, six-assist performance from Isaiah Sykes.
UCF TEAM NOTES
Five of UCF's last eight 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 this past Wednesday night's come-from-behind 67-65 win over Rutgers.
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.
Don't Call It A Comeback
UCF overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat Rutgers 67-65 this past 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. It was also the largest deficit overcome since Nov. 24, 2011, when the Knights were down by 17 to UConn and won 68-63 at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The First/Last Time
UCF's last outing vs. Temple -- a 78-76 win in Orlando -- was its first-ever meeting with the Owls.
UCF INDIVIDUAL NOTES
The Only One
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, including a 23-point effort in the first meeting with Temple.
He had just six points at halftime vs. SMU Saturday, but still managed to score a game-high 18 points. He scored 12 and played all 20 minutes in the second half.
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 1,464 points in 123 contests.
Sykes is also among the program's all-time leaders in rebounds (4th, 738), steals (5th, 174) and assists (5th, 326).
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.
Spurring Them On
Tristan Spurlock has been up and down through much of American Athletic Conference play, but has put four big outings together in his last six games.
Spurlock matched a career-best with 23 points in this past Wednesday's win over Rutgers, marking his sixth 20-point performance of the season.
He has now scored in double digits in seven of 16 American Athletic Conference games.
Spurlock is the team's second-leading scorer (11.2 ppg). At .770, Spurlock leads the Knights in free-throw percentage.
Despite going scoreless Saturday at SMU, he still grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
Kasey Wilson has shown he's willing and able to hold down different roles this season. He started the first 16 games of the season, before coming off the bench for eight games.
He's been back in the lineup for the last three games and has scored in double digits in three straight.
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.
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 in the win over USF and 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 with 10 points at Houston.
He made his first career start at SMU Saturday, but was limited to just nine minutes.
McBride was only cleared for practice on Jan. 4, after coming off ACL reconstruction.