No. 23/22 Knights Drop C-USA Contest at Southern Miss


Jan. 15, 2011

Final Stats

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By Doug Richards

Box Score in PDF Format

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (UCFAthletics.com) - The Knights will have to wait until Wednesday to attempt to match their win total from a year ago. Southern Miss used an incredible second-half performance to pull away and post an 86-69 victory Saturday over No. 23/22 UCF at Reed Green Coliseum.

Facing a team that many in the media selected as the preseason pick to win Conference USA, UCF (14-2, 1-2) failed in its attempt to claim its 15th victory of the season. UCF went 15-17 in 2009-10.

The Golden Eagles (14-3, 3-1) used a 21-2 run midway through the second half to record the win. Over the 4:23 span, the Knights attempted just three shots and committed five turnovers. After UCF ledwent up by four points, Southern Miss' D.J. Newbill started the run with a jumper at the 12:59 mark, and Gary Flowers concluded the spurt with a traditional 3-point play that gave the hosts a 68-53 advantage with about nine minutes to play.

The loss was the second straight for the Knights, who opened the campaign with 14-consecutive victories.

"It is not a one-game season," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "We are going to have to regroup and find our identity here. We have made strides (compared to last year), but we are finding out when we walk into places that people are playing us at a high level. This team is not used to playing at that next level that you need to play at."

Southern Miss clearly played at a higher level in the second half, when the team shot 62.1 percent overall, and outscored UCF 50-34. Five Southern Miss players finished with double-digits in scoring, led by R.L. Horton with 18. Newbill finished with 17 points and Flowers totaled 16 points and eight boards. The first half featured eight ties and nine lead changes. Neither squad led by more than five points in the opening stanza, and Southern Miss took a 36-35 advantage into the break after LaShay Page hit a jumper towards the end of the half.

Marcus Jordan led the Knights with 20 points, and Keith Clanton added 14 points and seven boards.

The game was the first in a week for the Knights, who have noticed the play of their foes go up more than a few notches since UCF entered the national rankings in December.

"Teams are playing out of their bodies," Jordan said of UCF's opponents. "I think we welcome that, but we need to get used to that. It is not going to change."

UCF shot 44.6 percent overall, but committed 16 turnovers, including 10 in the second half. Southern Miss finished with a 44-22 advantage in the paint and outrebounded UCF, 37-27.

UCF will return to Orlando to begin a two-game homestand Wednesday against East Carolina at 7 p.m. at the UCF Arena. The squad will then host Rice on Saturday.