Just four days after posting a dominating victory on the road, UCF had another complete game Wednesday as the Knights improved to 3-0 in Conference USA play with a 74-63 win over Houston at the UCF Arena. UCF (13-3) received strong contributions from a handful of players, especially Isaiah Sykes.
The sophomore, who continues to make strides with his overall game, totaled 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Eleven of his boards came on the offensive end.
On Saturday, UCF used its speed and up-tempo offense to hammer host East Carolina, 81-63. Against the Cougars (9-7, 1-2), the Knights did most of their damage inside as the hosts scored 50 points in the paint. The majority of Sykes’ points came on layups and putbacks, and Keith Clanton (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Josh Crittle (10 points) played well inside as well.
UCF finished with 27 offensive rebounds. The Knights also recorded 15 assists and only six turnovers.
“Everyone contributed,” UCF associate head coach Shawn Finney said. “It was a great team effort and we really shared the basketball well tonight.”
With school back in session, a huge crowd was on hand for the game. The announced attendance of 7,862 served as the seventh-largest crowd in school history.
The Knights, especially Crittle and A.J. Rompza (five assists, four steals) fed off the energy of the crowd from the start of the game.
“Coming out and having the students back, I got extra excited,” Crittle said.
UCF led 35-32 at the break and built its advantage to nine points with 14:55 to play when Crittle scored inside. Houston got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
After the game, Finney said that Sykes played “like a man.” His strength was no more evident than in the second half when he dunked over a pair of Cougars, sending the crowd, and the UCF bench, into a frenzy.
The Knights will have little time to enjoy the victory, which allowed them to improve to 10-0 at home this year. On Saturday, UCF will play in hostile environment when they face Marshall in Huntington, W.Va.