John Denton's Knights Insider: Men's Basketball Shuts Down Jackson State


Nov. 15, 2010

Final Stats

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By John Denton

Box Score in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The basketball season is still very much in its infancy and there will most certainly be bigger challenges ahead, but already there's a growing belief within the UCF men's basketball program that they can do great things with their new up-tempo style of play.

Constantly attacking the basket and shooting well from the perimeter while also smothering foes with their hustle and intensity defensively, UCF has clearly embraced new coach Donnie Jones' style and produced two routs in as many games.

The Knights got 13 points from Marcus Jordan and 12 more from Keith Clanton while shooting 59.6 percent in their 80-39 whipping of Jackson State before 6,333 fans at UCF Arena.

``We're having fun out there because the system allows us to play like this,'' Clanton said. ``The system that we're running makes other teams speed up and coach always tells us that nobody else practices like this. We're trying to speed them up, and play defense and offensively we know we're going to score the ball and get a lot of shots up.''

The 39 points allowed tied for the fewest given up by the Knights (2-0) since they joined Division I in 1984. UCF's smothering style of defense held Jackson State to 18.8 percent shooting. And in two games - won by a combined 95 points - UCF has held teams to 27.4 percent shooting while forcing 25 turnovers.

``We've been able to overwhelm our opponents with our energy and athleticism,'' Jones said. ``Not that we were more athletic than either team, but we've played together and done a great job of defending and rebounding the basketball.''

Junior shooting guard Isaac Sosa made three 3-pointers and scored 10 points for a UCF team that shot a dazzling 59.6 percent from the floor. The Knights hit 66.7 percent in last Friday's season-opening rout of West Florida and have shot 63.5 percent so far in two games.

P.J. Gaynor added nine points and five rebounds, while A.J. Tyler scored another eight points and David Diakite chipped in seven points, five rebounds, two steals and two thunderous dunks. Nine Knights had at least two baskets.

``We've been working hard at it and I think we have pretty good depth,'' Jones said. ``In practice, each day we have 11 or 12 guys - and 14 guys with the transfers - who are out there competing and they've played at such a high level and we've been able to transfer over into the games. We had good energy and I think we are gaining confidence.''

The Knights (2-0) led 47-16 at the half because of the perimeter playmaking of Jordan and the post play of Clanton. Jordan, who made five 3-pointers in last Friday's season-opening win against West Florida, instead attacked off the dribble this time around. In the first half, Jordan made all four of his shots, the final one when he dribbled behind his back and moved the ball from his left hand to his right in midair as he was fouled.

The sophomore guard had all 13 points and three assists in the first half. What made his effort even more impressive was that he was playing on a sprained ankle that kept him out of practice on Sunday.

``They were soloing him and not letting him catch the ball and limiting his catches and touches. When those nights are there he has to make others better,'' Jones said of Jordan. ``(On Monday) he was creating and getting others shots. He had sprained his ankle and wasn't able to practice as much and I was worried what he'd be able to do (Monday). It was a great effort by him considering he had a banged up ankle.''

Clanton, an all-freshman pick in Conference USA last season along with Jordan, battered Jackson State inside with 10 points and six rebounds. He made all nine of his shots in the opening game and his first three shots in the first half.

Said Clanton: ``I'm getting in an offensive rhythm and coach just wants me to stay aggressive. When I have a shot take it and don't turn shots down because it might be the best shot that we get. I just want to be aggressive, make my moves and go play.''

UCF seemed to overwhelm Jackson State with its pace and energy on both ends of the floor early on to build a commanding 31-9 lead. Offensively, the Knights made 12 of their first 16 shots and five of their first six 3-pointers. And defensively, they swatted five shots and caused Jackson State to miss 19 of its first 25 shots.

``We're just trying to get out and pressure the ball,'' Gaynor said. ``Coach preaches that every day. Our main focus is defense.''

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