Knights Insider UCF-Howard Recap


Nov. 17, 2009

Final Stats | Notes

Box Score in PDF Format

By John Denton

Click here to receive the Knights Insider via email

Less than four minutes into Tuesday night's game, UCF men's basketball coach Kirk Speraw pulled his five starters from the game and inserted five reserves.

He did that in part because he didn't like the energy at the start of the game. But another reason for Speraw's bold early move was because the Knights are a deep team with lots of different weapons.

Keyed by the scoring of guard Taylor Young and the all-around play of dynamic freshman Keith Clanton, UCF's reserves came through in a big way Tuesday night as the Knights defeated Howard 68-59 before 5,216 fans.

UCF's reserves outscored Howard 31-19 and steadied the team on a night when points were difficult to come by for long stretches. UCF (2-0) shot just 37.9 percent from the floor, but showed off its depth with four players scoring in double figures and two players grabbing double-digit rebounds.

``We've got a lot of people who can play, but we're still searching for the right mix and the right lineup,'' UCF coach Kirk Speraw said. ``A lot of people haven't yet shown at all how well they can play and they'll have an opportunity as the season goes along. We have confidence in those guys coming into the game to make plays.''

UCF came into the game riding the momentum of Friday's 84-67 season-opening rout of Atlantic 10-power UMass. The Knights shot the ball exceptionally well on Friday and pulled away in the second half while playing before the second-largest crowd ever at UCF Arena.

The game with Howard was actually the opening of the Glenn Wilkes Classic. The tournament moves to Daytona Beach's Ocean Center this weekend where UCF will face Auburn (Friday), Niagara (Saturday) and Drake (Sunday).

Young, a junior guard, led UCF with 15 points by hitting two of the Knights' five 3-pointers. Isaac Sosa, the Conference USA Player of the Week after scoring a career-best 26 points against UMass, struggled with his shot, but scored 14.

Clanton, the most celebrated recruit to play for UCF in the history of the program, scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. Most of his damage was done in the first half when UCF's players were clearly looking inside for the 6-foot-8 forward with the fluid post moves.

``He's poised and skilled and we're trying to go to him as many times as we can,'' Young said of Clanton. ``For him to assert himself offensively and defensively, that's huge. With his production, we're going to kind of go as he goes. If we get production from him that will be better for us.''

Redshirt freshman Dave Diakite added 10 points and 11 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end of the floor. The Washington, D.C., native, said he was motivated to face a team from his hometown and set a goal of grabbing 20 rebounds.

Arguably UCF's most improved player from last season, Diakite used his off-the-charts athleticism for two big plays in the first half. He got a running start and swatted a Calvin Thompson shot hard off the glass, much to the delight of the home crowd. And minutes later, Diakite followed up a Clanton miss for a thunderous dunk that pushed UCF's lead to eight in the first half.

``I set a goal today to get 20 rebounds, but I didn't reach it. I still got 11, but I'm not satisfied with that,'' he said. ``I was just trying to get as many rebounds as I can. The points will come as long as I'm patient and let the game come to me.''

UCF was up as many as 17 points in the second half, but had finishing issues and Speraw had to re-insert some of his key players down the stretch.

UCF led 31-20 at the half, but it wasn't because it shot the ball especially well. Instead, the Knights rode the fluid post moves of Clanton, who nearly had the first double-double of his UCF career in the first half alone. He scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 13 first-half minutes.

``We just had guys come in and play hard all night,'' Young said. ``We have a lot of skilled guys who can play. That's going to really help us out this season.''

John Denton's Knights Insider appears several times per week on UCFAthletics.com. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.