UCF Battles Hard, But Memphis Escapes with Win


Feb. 10, 2010

Final Stats | Notes

Box Score in PDF Format

By Doug Richards

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - No team is happy after a loss, and UCF certainly was not pleased after falling at Conference USA power Memphis Wednesday at the FedEx Forum. But the Knights were encouraged by the fact that they executed well and played with great passion against the Tigers.

UCF led with seven minutes to play, but was unable to record a big C-USA win as Memphis (17-7, 7-2 C-USA) escaped with a 76-70 victory. Junior forward A.J. Tyler (Palm Harbor, Fla.) scored a game-high 18 points for the Knights (11-12, 3-6).

"We fought hard," Tyler said. "It is something we can build on, but we are never going to be satisfied after a loss. No one in the locker room is happy or pleased with tonight. We are going in the right direction."

After a layup from freshman guard Marcus Jordan (Chicago, Ill.), UCF led 62-59 at the 7:05 mark of the second half. On the ensuing possession, Doneal Mack hit a 3-pointer and was fouled. His 4-point play gave the Tigers a 63-62 advantage and the lead for good. The Knights had the ball down by two points with just under two minutes to play, but freshman forward Keith Clanton turned the ball over in the paint, leading to a dunk on the other end from Wesley Witherspoon.

The contest featured 15 lead changes and 15 ties.

The Tigers led by three points at halftime and played well enough at the start of the second half to build an 11-point edge three minutes into the period. UCF responded with a 12-0 run, getting five points from Clanton during the spurt. Sophomore guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) capped the run with a jumper at the 13:25 mark that handed UCF a 47-46 lead.

"I thought that it was a very encouraging sign that when we got down at the beginning of the second half that we stood our ground and fought back," UCF head coach Kirk Speraw said. "In this environment, and in this place, to be able to do that is a very encouraging sign. We did some things well. We weren't as consistent as we need to be in our execution of things, but this (Memphis) is a good basketball team."

UCF shot 53.1 percent from the contest and registered 21 assists on 26 made field goals.

Tyler was one of four Knights to finish with double-figures in scoring as Clanton totaled 12 points, and Jordan and Rompza both chipped in with 10 points. Jordan dished out seven assists with no turnovers in 29 minutes.

The game at the FedEx Forum marked the Knights' lone trip to Memphis this year. In each of the last four seasons, the C-USA Championship has been held at the facility, but this March is moving to Tulsa, Okla.

The Tigers finished with a 34-20 edge on the glass. Mack and Roburt Salllie both recorded 15 points in the win.

The contest started 15 minutes late after a water pipe exploded pregame, forcing both teams and spectators to evacuate the building.

The Knights, who have not had a home contest since Jan. 30, will return to Orlando to host Tulane Saturday. Tip-off at the UCF Arena is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.