The Gators (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) lost to the Knights for the first time in 10 meetings and could drop from the rankings after another lackluster effort.
Michael Jordan’s son had a lot to do with this one.
Jordan was 6 of 11 from the field and played tight defense, creating all kinds of problems for the Gators (5-2).
He clamped down on Florida’s leading scorers, Kenny Boynton and Chandler Parsons, and broke down Florida’s perimeter defense at will. His biggest shots came at the free throw line. He hit two with 24 seconds remaining, putting the Knights (6-0) up 55-52.
Erving Walker and Boynton missed 3-pointers, and Clanton made two free throws that pretty much sealed it.
It was a signature win for first-year UCF coach Donnie Jones, who spent more than a decade on Billy Donovan’s staff. The two exchanged a hug and a few words after the game. It dropped Donovan’s record against his former assistants to 5-2, with the other loss coming to Arkansas’ John Pelphrey.
The Gators, after trailing for most of the game, used a 10-0 run to take a 46-44 lead midway through the second half. Vernon Macklin carried Florida all game, hitting hook shot after hook shot.
Macklin finished with 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting and had eight rebounds. His left-handed layup cut UCF’s lead to 53-52 with a minute left. Isaiah Sykes threw away the inbounds pass, giving Florida a chance to take the lead.
But Boynton missed an open jumper from the free throw line with 35 seconds remaining. Jordan hit both free throws with 24 seconds left, then Clanton hit his shot with 9.4 seconds remaining to give the Knights a five-point lead.
Walker responded with a driving layup, and Clanton gave the Gators even more life when he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Walker knocked the loose ball out of bounds with 1.2 seconds left.
The Knights finally could celebrate.
The Gators trudged off the court.
Chandler Parsons had the most to sulk about after a miserable return to his hometown. With at least 75 friends and family members in attendance, Parsons missed eight of nine shots, including all three 3-point attempts, and even more stunning, whiffed on six free throws.
One of his missed free throws was an air ball, giving the UCF fans more reason to heckle him every time he touched the ball.
Parsons finished with two points, six rebounds and five assists. Walker had 16 points, and Boynton 10.
Source: ESPN, Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press, Marcus Jordan scores 18 to lead UCF’s upset of No. 16 Florida