UConn is doing exactly what was expected and taking it to the UCF Knights on their own crappy looking home court. After the first half, they're up 41-24. UCF was playing them relatively close early on, but a 9-0 run starting at the seven minute mark put them up for good. The Hukies have been asserting themselves in the paint, with DeAndre Daniels and Phil Nolan scoring multiple easy buckets down low. UConn is outrebounding the Knights 24-14 including 9 offensive rebounds.
Lasan Kromah has been incredible so far. The fan favorite has 11 points to go with three rebounds and three steals so far. The graduate transfer has proven to be a very valuable addition to the team all season, and I think we'll be better off in March because of him. It really is a shame we'll only get one year of this guy.
Shabazz Napier has a casual 8 points with six rebounds and four assists already. He's had a couple of gems, including a behind the back ball trick to split the defense and a couple of beautiful passes to set up his teammates for easy buckets.
DeAndre Daniels has looked pretty spry in his first game back from injury and has shown no signs of discomfort. With eight points so far in the half, this is a solid return to action. His touch was a little off early on, but he seems to have settled; UConn really needs him to be at his best with four big games across the season.
As I said in the preview, hopefully UConn can widen the gap and let us get a look at the young guns. Brimah got off to a quick start, but had to sit after committing a silly foul for his second of the game. He should be starting in the second half- I'd like to see him get more involved.
The UCF Knights sit at 9-11 after losing a heartbreaker to USF 79-78 in overtime. In losing seven of their last eight, the Knights have played the top teams in the conference- including SMU, at Cincinnati, Memphis and at Louisville. Only one of those games, Memphis, was a 10-point defeat while the others were pretty much blowouts. UCF's one win in conference came against Temple back in early January 78-76. They were led by Isaiah Sykes' 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 assists performance.
The Knights have some good and some bad when it comes to their statistics nationally. The good is their rebounding. UCF ranks 23rd in the nation in rebounds per game with 39.3 and 12th in offensive rebounds per game with 14.3. The bad is their free throw shooting. They rank 349th out of 351 teams in team free throw shooting with 60%. Only Central Arkansas and Morgan State rank worse than the Knights. UCF also loves to shoot the three ball as they rank 50th in the nation in three-point attempts with 21. As a team, they shoot 33.8% from deep.
UCF has four players who average at least 10 points a game who we will talk about now along with their main three-point threat:
Isaiah Sykes, G, Senior (6-foot-6, 220 pounds): Leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists, averaging 15.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 3.6 APG. Also turns over the ball a good amount averaging 3.4 a game. He is one of two active players who have multiple triple-doubles, the other player being Shabazz. In the last meeting with UConn, Sykes scored 17 points, gave out 4 assists, and pulled down 3 rebounds.
Calvin Newell, G, Senior (6-foot-1, 210 pounds): Second on the team in both points and assists, averaging 11.5 points and 3.2 assists. He has not a three-point threat at all but still likes to shoot it as he is 16-75 on the year for a 21.3%. Newell only scored 6 points and had 1 assist in their last meeting.
Tristin Spurlock, F, Senior (6-foot-8, 230 pounds): Averages 10.9 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, both of which are 3rd on the team. He is a three-point threat as he shoots 34.8% going 31-89 on the year. Also, the team's best free throw shooter at 78.8%. Last game against UConn, Spurlock had 11 points while also grabbing 6 rebounds.
Kasey Wilson, F, Junior (6-foot-7, 225 pounds): Fourth player on UCF to average double digits with 10.0 a contest. He is 2nd on the team in rebounds averaging 5.8 a game. Wilson does not shoot the three-pointer as much as his teammates, but he is still 26-63 on the year which is good for the top percentage on the team at 41.3. He only scored 3 points against UConn while also recording 6 rebounds.
Matt Williams, G, Sophomore (6-foot-5, 220 pounds): Only averages 6.5 points per game but is the Knights' main three-point threat. He leads the team in both makes and attempts going 39-103 so far on the year for 37.9%. Williams went 3-8 from three in the last meeting with UConn.
UCF is coached by Donnie Jones who is in his 4th year with team. He has compiled a 72-45 record at UCF so far, although technically it is 51-45 since UCF's wins from the 2010-11 season were vacated due to a playing of an ineligible player. Before UCF, Jones coached at Marshall where he went 55-41. He has never made the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, but he did win two national championships while he was an assistant under Billy Donovan at Florida from 1996-2007.