The Blue Man group were not the only ones putting on a show at the UCF Arena Wednesday night, as Hassan Whiteside and the Marshall Thundering Herd surged late to defeat the UCF Knights 81-75.
Whiteside, who led the nation in blocks entering the game, added to that total with ten more rejections. The true freshman finished with a triple-double as the Knights had no answer for his inside presence.
UCF teased their fans again by coming out strong in the first half against Marshall and their undefeated conference record, taking a nine point lead into the break, but a lack of focus and hot Marshall shooting undid the Knights in the second half. Marshall shot 62.5% from behind the arc while draining ten three pointers on the night. Chris Lutz keyed the Herd’s offensive attack with 21 points including six three-pointers.
UCF wasted what turned out to be Marcus Jordan’s coming out party as a Knight. The highly touted freshman recruit’s 19 points led the team. Marcus showed off an impressive three-point shot going a perfect three for three from beyond the arc. Jordan tried to drag the Knights back into the game at the end with two three-point plays in the final minute, but his effort fell just short.
Whiteside’s inside presence on offense and defense made it difficult for UCF to draw fouls inside, which resulted in Marshall holding a 30-7 advantage in free throws. “There are two stats that jump out at you” said coach Speraw “You score six more baskets and get outscored 17 at the free throw line and the fact that they get more offensive rebounds than you get defensive rebounds.’
The Knights started off with stellar defense forcing ten first half turnovers. AJ Rompza, fourth in the country in steals entering the night, added three to his total. UCF finished with a ten point advantage on points off turnovers.
Dave Diakite provided one of the most explosive slam dunks in UCF history with a thunderous windmill jam early in the first half.