Young, Knights Return to Winning Ways at ECU


Feb. 2, 2010

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By Doug Richards

GREENVILLE, N.C. (UCFAthletics.com) - How can two points in the first half be important in a 40-minute game? For UCF on Tuesday at East Carolina, a bucket from junior forward A.J. Tyler (Palm Harbor, Fla.) at the end of the opening period was huge.

Tyler grabbed an offensive board and then scored inside as the buzzer sounded. His basket might have only given the Knights a one-point edge at the break, but it helped set the tone for the rest of the game. The result was a good one for UCF as the Knights posted a 67-56 win at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The triumph gave UCF head coach Kirk Speraw his 275th victory with the Knights, making him the winningest coach in program history.

After the game, Speraw spoke about Tyler's big basket. It helped the Knights come out of halftime strong, as UCF (11-11, 3-5 Conference USA) used a 10-0 run early in the second period to pull away. The team eventually led by as many as 16 against the Pirates, who fell to 7-15 overall and 1-7 in the league.

"It was a very big bucket," Speraw said. "We missed the jumper, but he fought and battled for that rebound and kind of willed it into the hole. I thought that was crucial to be able to do that."

Tyler had a strong game for the Knights (10 points, nine boards), but the team's most valuable player was junior guard Taylor Young (Orlando, Fla.). Starting for the second-straight game, Young hit all three of his 3-point attempts and finished with a career-high 16 points. He hit five free throws down the stretch, helping UCF hold off a late rally fueled by East Carolina's Jamar Abrams, who drained five treys and concluded the game with 28 points.

"Taylor Young shot the ball very well. He hit some (3-pointers) in good rhythm," Speraw said.

The contest was the third of four-straight mid-week road games for the Knights. "It feels great to win," Young said. "We knew we had a tough road stretch. It feels good going into this break getting this last victory."

Sophomore guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) scored only five points, but helped control the tempo for the entire game. The point guard sparked the 10-0 run in the second half, scoring on back-to-back possessions. The spurt was capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico). His triple gave UCF a 40-31 advantage with 13:44 to play.

Sosa, UCF's 3-point specialist, has struggled for the last month, but found his shot against the Pirates. He made four shots from deep and finished with 14 points.

UCF shot 42.3 percent overall, 44.4 percent from 3-point range and made 15-of-18 tries at the free-throw line (83.3 percent).

The win was especially big for the Knights because the team will not play again until eight days from now when Memphis hosts UCF.

"We gave a good effort. We finally started to make a few shots," Speraw said. "Hopefully that will get some confidence to our guys. It has been a tough stretch of games. Now we can give them a couple of days [off]. We can work on some things and work on our timing and execution during the course of these next few practices."

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.