Throughout its memorable 2010-11 season, UCF received strong individual contributions from several different players. As a result, the Knights won 21 games, recorded impressive victories over teams like No. 16 Florida, Miami and UTEP and entered the national rankings for the first time in program history.
Let’s take a look at the top individual performances of the season:
15. The Disrupter
Isaiah Sykes vs. Rhode Island (March 21)
After the Knights defeated visiting Rhode Island, 66-54, to advance to the CBI semifinals, Donnie Jones had nothing but praise for freshman Isaiah Sykes. The head coach had good reason to commend the small forward. Sykes’ play on the defensive end was a big reason why the Knights pulled away from the Rams to coast to their second postseason victory. He locked down Rhode Island star Delroy James, who scored the game’s first nine points while being guarded by another Knight. With Sykes playing his usual tenacious defense, James finished with 18 points. Sykes logged only 20 minutes, but concluded the contest with six points, four rebounds and a game-high four steals. “He did a terrific job and he was all over the place,” Jones said of Sykes. “He’s the guy who sometimes doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but he disrupts. He does those things that help our team have great toughness and keeps us in games.”
14. Sosa Steps Up
Isaac Sosa vs. SMU (March 2)
On a night where its two leading scorers struggled, UCF got a huge contribution off the bench from Isaac Sosa. The shooting guard hit 4-of-7 3-pointers and totaled 17 points to lead the Knights to a 51-48 victory over SMU at the UCF Arena. Despite not starting due to senior night, Sosa played 34 minutes. All four of his made field goals were from deep. He also made all five of his free-throw attempts. UCF’s top scorers on the year, Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton, combined for only 14 points against the Mustangs.
13. Contributing to a Big C-USA Win
Keith Clanton at UTEP (March 21)
A total team effort led to UCF’s 74-68 victory at UTEP, but the contribution of Keith Clanton truly stood out. Facing a Miner team that was atop the Conference USA standings and receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, Clanton recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. When UTEP mounted a furious rally in the second half, the power forward was UCF’s answer on offense. The Knights constantly went to Clanton in the post after intermission, when he scored 13 of his points on 5-of-9 shooting.
12. Senior Night
A.J. Tyler vs. Southern Miss (March 26)
A.J. Rompza got most of the attention following UCF’s 65-64 win over Southern Miss in Orlando, and for good reason. The point guard nailed a deep 3-pointer with just seconds remaining to lift the Knights past the Golden Eagles, who were tied for first in Conference USA at the time. But the Knights would not have even been in the game if it were not for A.J. Tyler. The senior hit three 3-pointers in the second half, helping UCF outscore Southern Miss 41-30 after the break. Tyler finished with 14 points in 28 minutes off the bench in the win.
11. Getting Into the Holiday Spirit
Keith Clanton vs. Furman (Dec. 29)
In the national rankings for the first time in program history, UCF played a pair of competitive games at the UCF Holiday Classic. In its 71-53 opening-round victory over Furman, UCF was led by Keith Clanton, who did it all against the Paladins. The sophomore totaled 21 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and three assists in 31 minutes of action.
10. A Senior Moment
Tom Herzog vs. UAB (Jan. 29)
Despite being hobbled by injuries throughout the year, Tom Herzog still made a positive contribution in his first and lone campaign with the Knights. The Michigan State transfer blocked 59 shots on the year, good enough for third on the school single-season swats register. Herzog’s most complete game of the season came against UAB at the UCF Arena. The 7-footer played 35 minutes and recorded 20 points, eight rebounds and four swats. He shot 7-of-13 from the floor. As a junior at Michigan State, Herzog totaled 20 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks – the entire season.
9. A Dominating Performance
Keith Clanton vs. Louisiana (Dec. 15)
The Ragin’ Cajuns had no answer for Keith Clanton. The sophomore registered a dominating performance in UCF’s 79-58 victory over visiting Louisiana. In 35 minutes, Clanton scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked three shots and had three steals. Clanton scored in a variety of ways. He hit 8-of-15 field-goal attempts, made 2-of-4 shots from deep and went 10-of-14 at the free-throw line. Clanton did much of his work in the second half, when he made seven of his eight field goals. “Coach told me to just play hard and be aggressive with everything that I did, so that’s what I tried to do,” he said.
8. Herzog’s Block Party
Tom Herzog vs. Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 11)
Hampered by a wrist injury, Tom Herzog did not log a single minute in the first half against Bethune-Cookman at the UCF Arena. But with the Knights leading by just two points at the break, Donnie Jones decided to insert the 7-footer into the contest in the second half. Herzog made his presence felt. In 17 minutes, he totaled 14 points and matched a school record with eight blocks as the Knights pulled away for a 76-59 win over the Wildcats. His play on both ends of the floor was a big reason why UCF outscored Bethune-Cookman 38-23 in the final stanza.
7. From Way Downtown
Isaac Sosa vs. Stetson (Nov. 23)
Isaac Sosa entered UCF’s contest at Stetson with just six 3-pointers in the Knights’ first three games of the season. By halftime in an 85-58 victory over the Hatters, the junior had five triples. Sosa connected on six total 3-pointers in the win and finished with 22 points in 27 minutes of action. He hit three 3-pointers on three-straight possessions during a stretch in the first half, helping UCF build a big lead.
6. Sunshine State Star
Marcus Jordan vs. Miami (Dec. 18)
In a nationally-televised contest at the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Marcus Jordan helped the Knights to an 84-78 come-from-behind victory over Miami that surged UCF into the national rankings for the first time in program history. Selected as the game’s MVP, Jordan scored 23 points and added five assists in 37 minutes before leaving the contest with a severely sprained ankle. UCF trailed by 10 points at intermission, but Jordan scored 12 of his points in the second half when the Knights completely dominated the Hurricanes.
5. The Comeback Kid
Marcus Jordan vs. Princeton (Dec. 30)
When the Knights trailed Princeton by eight points at halftime, Donnie Jones challenged his team to play better on both ends of the floor in the second half against the Tigers. Led by Marcus Jordan, UCF responded, coming back for a hard-fought 68-62 victory that gave the hosts the UCF Holiday Classic presented by EA Sports title and a perfect 13-0 record in non-conference play. Jordan scored 22 of his 26 points after intermission as UCF outscored the Tigers 39-25 in the second half. He did most of his damage at the free-throw line, making 11-of-13 attempts. On the defensive end, Jordan helped limit Dan Mavaraides, who totaled 18 points in the first half, to just two points in the final 20 minutes.
4. Rompza to the Rescue
A.J. Rompza vs. USF (Nov. 18)
By steadying UCF’s offense early, and inspiring the defense late by sacrificing his body, A.J. Rompza helped UCF to a 65-59 defeat of cross-state rival USF in front of 7,653 fans at the UCF Arena. The point guard finished with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in the win over the Bulls. After he was knocked to the floor by a forearm from a USF player setting a screen, Rompza responded with a stretch of eight-consecutive points in the first half. “A.J. Rompza is the heart and soul of our team,” Donnie Jones said. “He played 31 minutes, but that was from both ends, 94 feet. He was pressing, running and making plays and making free throws. He just did the things that really carried our team.”
3. Second-Half Success
Marcus Jordan vs. Marshall (Jan. 5)
For the second contest in a row, Marcus Jordan registered an incredible second-half performance to lift the Knights to victory. This time, Jordan scored 18 of his game-high 26 points to lift the hosts to an emotional 65-58 defeat of Marshall in the Conference USA opener for both teams. After the score was tied at 28 at the break, he shot 8-of-12 in the second half. In 38 minutes, he also added five assists.
2. Filling Up the Stat Sheet
Keith Clanton vs. Southeastern Louisiana (Dec. 4)
Keith Clanton showed off his versatility in UCF’s 74-49 victory over Southeastern Louisiana at home. The Orlando native filled up the stat sheet as he finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds, eight blocks and three assists in 34 minutes. The eight blocks matched a school record. Clanton shot 7-of-13 from the floor, and six of his 15 rebounds came on the offensive end.
1. Shining on the Big Stage
Marcus Jordan vs. No. 16 Florida (Dec. 1)
In a game that catapulted the Knights into the national spotlight, Marcus Jordan did not fill up the scoreboard with points. Instead, Jordan was simply steady all contest long, helping UCF pull off the 57-54 upset win over No. 16 Florida at the new Amway Center. Playing ample time at point guard, Jordan committed just two turnovers in 31 minutes of action. He finished with 18 points and three assists, and carried UCF’s offense for long stretches in the second half. The Chicago native also delivered the most memorable play of the evening, one good enough to earn him a spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. In the second half, Jordan shook Florida’s Kenny Boynton off the dribble to get into the lane, and went up for a right-handed layup. When Florida big man Patric Young attempted to block the shot, Jordan switched the ball to his left hand and flipped in the layup. “I was just trying to get it up and luckily it went in,” Jordan said of the shot. “I wanted to be aggressive because I saw a couple of holes where I could get into the paint.”
Source: Doug Richards, UCFAthletics.com