Knights Cannot Get Back on Track in Memphis


Jan. 26, 2011

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By Doug Richards

Box Score in PDF Format

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - For the first 10 minutes of the game Wednesday, UCF played with the energy that head coach Donnie Jones has been seeking for the past few weeks. As a result, the Knights hung tough with a young, but talented and athletic Memphis team that is nearly impossible to beat at the FedEx Forum.

Unfortunately for the Knights, it was the host Tigers who closed the opening half with the energy as Memphis used a big run to record a 77-61 victory over UCF. The Tigers (16-4, 5-1 Conference USA), who are currently receiving votes in both national polls, closed the period with a 22-8 run and took a 47-28 edge into halftime.

Despite the promising start to the game, UCF fell to 14-5 overall and 1-5 in league play.

The first 10 minutes of the contest featured three ties and five lead changes. UCF led 14-11 eight minutes into the game after a free throw from Keith Clanton, and after the hosts went up two points, the Knights tied the contest at 16 when A.J. Rompza had a layup at the 11:09 mark.

Not much went right for UCF after that point. The Knights had five turnovers during the Memphis run, and gave up bucket after bucket in transition, including a dunk by Joe Jackson with 14 seconds to play in the half that put the Tigers up 19 points and energized the 17,086 blue and white clad fans in attendance. Will Barton, who had seven points during the run, scored 14 of his game-high 17 points in the opening 20 minutes.

"We had some bright spots. I thought we played (well) the first 10 minutes of the game," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "We were doing a good job mixing up offenses and defenses against them. There was the run that they had there where we just kept turning the ball over. Turnovers are hurting us."

UCF had 10 turnovers in the first half, and 22 for the game. Memphis shot 52.6 percent in the opening stanza, compared to 33.3 percent for the Knights.

The Knights showed some of the energy that they lacked at the end of the first half late in the game. UCF outscored the Tigers 33-30 after intermission, and P.J. Gaynor scored all 10 of his points off the bench in the second half.

"I was really proud of him. P.J. really has competed," Jones said.

Marcus Jordan led the Knights with 13 points. Keith Clanton totaled seven points and 12 boards as UCF finished with a 47-33 edge on the glass.

The Knights shot 35.5 percent overall and made just 1-of-15 (6.7 percent) shots from deep.

Memphis finished with a 52-36 edge in the paint. The Tigers shot 48.5 percent from the field. Barton was one of four Memphis players who finished with double digits in scoring.

Next up for the Knights is a Saturday contest against visiting UAB. Tipoff at the UCF Arena is set for 7 p.m.