No. 4 Connecticut blows big lead in loss to UCF

This one was particularly painful for Connecticut coach Jim

Calhoun.

Jeremy Lamb scored 15 points, but the fourth-ranked Huskies blew

a 17-point lead in the second half of a 68-63 loss to Central

Florida in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday.

Connecticut finished with 13 turnovers in its first loss since

March 5 against Notre Dame. The defending national champions had

won 16 straight games.

Calhoun said it was one of the most ”surreal” performances he

has seen during his long tenure with the Huskies.

”I can’t be more disappointed in how we played,” he said. ”We

just stopped playing. We couldn’t even get the ball inbounded near

the end. Nobody stepped up and it was a complete disaster for

us.”

Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton had 20 points apiece for the

Knights (4-1), who had eight turnovers. Jordan also had seven

rebounds and seven assists.

Connecticut put together a 10-0 run to take a 50-33 lead with 16

minutes left. Lamb sparked the run with a 3-pointer and also hit

two free throws during the surge.

Central Florida then scored 17 of the next 19 points to pull

within two. Clanton kicked off the rally with a 3-pointer and

Jordan finished the spurt with a 3.

Lamb made another 3 to stretch the Huskies’ lead to five, but

they couldn’t hold off the pesky Knights. Jordan converted a layup,

then made two big free throws to give Central Florida a 58-57

advantage with 3:11 left. Jordan added four more foul shots down

the stretch to preserve the big win.

Jordan, the son of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, said he

received an encouraging message from one of his teammates before he

made the two free throws that gave the Knights the lead.

”He told me this shot is in my blood,” Jordan said.

Isaiah Sykes added 10 points for the Knights, including

consecutive layups that stretched Central Florida’s lead to 62-57

late in the game.

Andre Drummond finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four

blocked shots for the Huskies (5-1), who led 38-29 at halftime.

Alex Oriakhi had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

”I feel like I let the team down,” Lamb said. ”I turned the

ball over in key moments. We’ve lost games before but this hurts.

We just need to come out with energy tomorrow and be ready to

play.”

Starting point guard Shabazz Napier finished with seven

turnovers, and Lamb had three. Napier went 1 for 7 from the field

and finished with four points and five assists.

Jordan was whistled for a technical with 16 minutes left in the

game, fueling his big final surge.

”I still don’t know why I got the technical,” he said. ”But I

do know I wanted to come out and be more aggressive.”