Isaiah Sykes posted his sixth double-double of the season with 23 points and 11 rebounds, leading UCF to a 63-45 win over UTEP on Saturday in Orlando.
Sykes had a big second half with 17 points and six boards, and the Knights (20-8, 9-5 C-USA) outscored the Miners 38-22 over the final 20 minutes. UCF was up by just three points (35-32) with a little over 13 minutes remaining before Sykes scored four points in a 7-0 run that gave the Knights their first double-digit lead (42-32) of the game.
The Miners (14-14, 7-7 C-USA), who had their season-long four-game winning streak snapped, couldn’t get closer than seven points in the final 10 minutes.
“We just got thoroughly pounded and beaten in all areas of the game,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “The 38 percent that they shot was very deceiving because of the number of offensive rebounds and putback baskets. We were unable to get the ball off the board. They were much more physical than us.”
UCF collected 18 offensive rebounds, including 10 in the second half, and had decisive advantages in second chance points (11-2) and points off turnovers (12-0).
The Miners weren’t real effective offensively either, despite shooting 47.6 percent from the field. UCF took a whopping 18 more shots (60-42) and 19 free throws to UTEP’s six. The Miners had 14 turnovers, including eight in the second half.
“We were unable to get to the foul line, which has been a real strength of our team,” Floyd said. “It goes back to the fact that they were better than us in all areas. It’s disappointing after playing well for four straight games.”
Keith Clanton scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Knights, and Marcus Jordan chipped in with 11 points. UCF outrebounded UTEP 37-27, including 20-11 in the second half.
“They had so many possessions with four or five attempts on the glass where we had no real commitment to going back and getting it off the board,” Floyd said. “We’re disappointed offensively as well with our turnovers and inability to get the ball into the lane. They were much better than we were tonight.”
John Bohannon was the only UTEP player to score in double figures, finishing with 16 points and five rebounds.
UCF maintained the lead after scoring the game’s first six points and going up 11-2 early. The Miners had led at one point in each of their previous 97 contests dating back to the 2008-09 season.
UTEP tied the game at 29 on a layup by Bohannon with 16:15 to go, but was outscored 13-3 in the next five and a half minutes.
“You credit Central Florida. They did a great job,” Floyd said. “They played really well defensively in the second half and really rebounded it. They were just more aggressive than we were in all areas. Their poise was much better than ours and they had a lot of driving lanes to the basket and a lot of second chance opportunities.”
The Miners will host Rice on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the final home game for senior forward Gabriel McCulley. The Owls lost at Southern Miss, 58-56, on Saturday.