Short-handed UCF falls at No. 7 Florida, 79-66

The last time UCF played Florida, the Knights enjoyed one of the
biggest upsets in program history.

The rematch wasn’t one coach Donnie Jones will want to talk much
about again.

Kasey Wilson snapped out of a shooting slump and scored 20
points, one of four players in double figures, but Central Florida
faded down the stretch at No. 7 Florida and lost 79-66.

Wilson, who missed 15 of his previous 17 shots, was 6-of-11
shooting against the Gators (5-0). He was 5 of 6 from 3-point
range. Tristan Spurlock (14), Isaiah Sykes (12) and Keith Clanton
(11) also hit double figures.

But the Knights’ problems – they have just eight scholarship
players and one true guard while dealing with NCAA sanctions – were
evident late in the game.

”It played a role,” coach Donnie Jones said. ”I’m not taking
away from Florida. They wore us down with constant pressure.”

The Gators missed their first 10 shots, but got things going
from the 3-point line. Kenny Boynton hit one and Scottie Wilbekin
made three from behind the arc. Wilbekin’s last one came during an
11-0 run that turned a tight game into a double-digit lead.

Florida led 42-24 at halftime, but UCF got back into the game
with a strong start to the second half.

The Knights used an 11-0 run, highlighted by consecutive 3s from
Wilson and Spurlock, to get it back to single digits.

But Donovan called a timeout and settled his team down. The
pulled away from there.

The Knights shot 57 percent in the second half, including 80
percent from 3-point range, but couldn’t match Florida’s size and
speed.

Boynton finished with 24 points and eight rebounds. Wilbekin had
17 points, five rebounds and eight assists – all career highs.

Wilbekin had been slated to be the team’s starting point guard
and defensive lynchpin before a suspension left him out of the mix.
He sat out three games before being reinstated, and coach Billy
Donovan said he needed to work his way back into the lineup.

”I don’t know what he expects for me to prove,” Wilbekin said.
”I’m just working. I’m just playing basketball. I’m not worried
about that.”

Wilbekin may have done enough Friday to get his spot back.

It certainly helped that Rosario self-destructed.

Rosario played just four minutes in the second half, pulled
after two quick turnovers.

”I’m at a point with him right now where I just can’t deal with
the turnovers,” Donovan said. ”There’s good and bad turnovers.
There are turnovers where you’re trying to make the right play, and
for whatever reason, you don’t quite execute the pass. But then you
have what I would consider a high-stepping, one knee up, look away,
up in the air, that’s in the third row. We’re not going to tolerate
it.

”I gave him an opportunity to go back in there and he makes
another poor decision.”

Rosario’s mistakes helped UCF (3-2) cut an 18-point down to
seven to open the second half.

But the Gators (5-0) responded by dumping the ball inside to
Patric Young, who converted a three-point play, and then getting a
huge 3-point from Boynton.

Boynton, three days after spraining his left ankle, made 7 of 15
shots and added eight rebounds. He played with his ankle tightly
taped and got a pain-killing injection before the game.

”I’ll probably feel it when I take this tape off,” Boynton
said.