March 6, 2013
UCF Edges UAB 74-70
BARTOW ARENA - Isaiah Sykes scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while two other UCF players hit double figures as the Knights edged UAB 74-70 at Bartow Arena Wednesday nights and put an end to the Blazers four-game winning streak. Calvin Newell (18 points) and Kasey Wilson (15) helped spark the UCF offense to the win.
UAB also had a trio of players in double figures, led by Rod Rucker's double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds). Fahro Alihodzic tossed in 15 points, while Jordan Swing added 10.
UCF jumped out to a quick 7-3 lead, but UAB fought back. With 4:05 remaining in the first half, the Blazers took a 32-23 lead - prompting UCF to take a timeout. The Knights took control after that, but UAB still held on for a 36-35 halftime lead.
The Knights took control at the beginning of the second half, building up a 56-47 lead with 11:57 remaining in the game. UCF built the lead to 62-49 with 10:06 remaining before UAB responded with a 10-0 run to cut the margin back to three points.
A Rod Rucker layup with 4:04 remaining tied the game at 65-all, but UCF responded with a trey by Kasey Wilson to regain the lead. The Knights still had the lead - 71-68 - and the ball with one minute remaining.
UCF couldn't convert, but neither could UAB when they got the ball. Isaiah Sykes hit a pair of free throws to give the Knights a 73-68 lead.
Jordan Swing hit a pair from the charity stripe to close the gap to 73-70, but that was the last gasp for the Blazers. Calvin Newell sank a free throw with nine seconds left to seal the game for the Knights.
The difference came beyond the three-point line. Coach Jerod Haase said the game plan was to force UCF to make three-point shots. That part of the plan worked, but "unfortunately, they made a bunch of them," Haase added.
Indeed, the Knights hit 13 treys for the game, hitting them at rate of 46.4 percent (13-of-28). UAB managed only 27 percent from beyond the arc (6-of-22).
Despite the loss, the score was much closer than the 64-48 margin that UCF claimed in January, when the two teams first met for the year. Haase acknowledged the improvements adding that while there had been some ups and downs since then, there had been "a lot more ups than downs."
Seniors Terrence Jones, Alexander Scottland-Williamson and Karl Moton were honored prior to the game. The three players also started the game for the Blazers.
UAB dropped to 15-15 overall and 7-8 in Conference USA. UCF improved to 20-10 overall and 9-6 in conference play.
UAB next travels to Memphis to finish out the regular season Saturday. They then move on to the C-USA conference tournament in Tulsa, Okla., on Wednesday, March 13.
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