Defensive Effort Helps No. 19/21 Knights Remain Unbeaten


Dec. 29, 2010

Final Stats

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By Doug Richards

Box Score in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Thanks to an impressive defensive effort, UCF's perfect start to the season has continued. Playing at home as a nationally-ranked team for the first time, the No. 19/21 Knights rolled past Furman, 71-53, Wednesday to open the UCF Holiday Classic presented by EA Sports.

Four Knights (12-0) finished with double-digits in scoring, led by Keith Clanton, who totaled a game-high 21 points.

UCF played well offensively, but the 7,111 fans in attendance at the UCF Arena who made up the fifth-largest crowd in program history witnessed a defense that smothered the Paladins (8-3) from the start. The hosts never trailed and limited Furman, a team that was coming off of a 16-point win over South Carolina, to just 33.3 percent shooting for the game.

The Knights, who have not lost under new head coach Donnie Jones, will now face Princeton in the UCF Holiday Classic final Thursday at 7:30 p.m. UCF is one of only seven undefeated teams in the nation.

"Coach talks about that our identity is playing hard, and one of the big components of defense is playing hard. I think we have been able to play some great team defense, and there is always room for improvement. But I think that has been one of our strong points," said UCF 7-footer Tom Herzog.

Clanton scored 14 points in the first half as the hosts shot 54.8 percent overall in the opening stanza. UCF took a 39-27 edge in the break.

Jones admitted after the game that he has noticed opponents playing with more intensity against his unbeaten, and nationally-ranked Knights.

"As I told our guys, you can't stay the same," Jones said of his team. "When you have success, your level of play has to increase. The same path that you took to win 12 games can't be the same night in and night out. Teams are coming in and playing (against UCF) at a different level. You've got to expect that for 40 minutes. You've got to be able to compete on every possession."

UCF shot 49.1 percent overall for the game and got great production (44 points) from its bench. Coming off of the bench for the second-straight game due to an injury, Marcus Jordan totaled 15 points to go with four assists in the win. Fellow reserves Isaiah Sykes (12 points) and Herzog (10 points) also contributed for the Knights.

Clanton shot 8-of-16 overall and also added nine rebounds and five blocks.

Amu Saaka led Furman with 17 points.

The contest was the first at home since Dec. 15 for the Knights.