UCF Basketball Falls to Southern Miss, Loses First Home Game of SeasonBasketball, Sports — By Nick Wilke on January 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm Tweet
The UCF men’s basketball team had its 16-game home win streak snapped on Saturday night by Conference USA leader Southern Miss, 78-65, at the UCF Arena.
It was the second straight loss overall for UCF (15-6, 5-3 C-USA), who now moves down to fifth place in the conference.
The Knights largest lead of the game was with four minutes remaining in the first half 31-19, but then Southern Miss ended the half with a 12-0 run, capped off by a buzzer-beating three pointer to end the half. This seemed to deflate the Knights as they went to the half.
“With four minutes to go there, we were up 12, and you gotta be able to hold those leads especially with a team that’s explosive,” UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. “They got a lot of guys that can score the basketball.”
“I think they got a lot of momentum off of that, but we still had the lead going into halftime,” UCF forward Keith Clanton said. “We should’ve kept our composure and played harder.”
Jones noticed that his team wasn’t the same in the second half after Southern Miss made that run to end the half.
“I thought we were in a pretty good rhythm, but we didn’t respond in the second half the way we needed to, and Southern Miss did,” Jones said. “There’s the reason why they are in first place by the way they played tonight.”
Southern Miss carried the momentum from the first half into the second half, pulling away to a 10-point lead midway through the half. UCF wasn’t able to get back in the game due to a lack of defensive rebounding. Southern Miss was able to get easy putbacks off of offensive rebounds, and they made their free-throws down the stretch when UCF had to foul.
USM (19-3, 6-1 C-USA) out-rebounded the Knights 35-33 and shot 19-for-27 at the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles had two players to share the scoring load. Forward Darnell Dodson scored 22 points with eight rebounds, and Neil Watson had 23 points with six assists.
UCF came into the contest ranked next to last in three-point percentage and shot just four-of-14 tonight from distance. Leading the team was Clanton, who finished with 21 points on nine-of-12 shooting with six rebounds. Marcus Jordan’s struggles continued tonight. He finished with 11 points on four-of-11 shooting.
The Knights will have another chance to bounce back from this loss and get right back into action on Monday night as they will face Palm Beach Atlantic University at the UCF Arena at 7 p.m.