UCF 65, South Florida 59
A.J. Rompza and Isaac Sosa each scored 13 points as Central Florida improved to 3-0 under new head coach Donnie Jones with a 65-59 defeat of rival South Florida Thursday night.
The Knights (3-0) entered the game shooting 63.6 percent from the floor and averaging 97.5 points, but beat the Bulls (1-2) with defense. UCF held USF without a point for a four-minute stretch late in the second half, building a one-point lead to nine. USF got within two, but no closer.
UCF, a member of Conference USA, beat the Big East-affiliated Bulls for a second time in three seasons. A home crowd of 7,653 - the fourth-largest in UCF history - watched the game.
Jones left C-USA rival Marshall and took over at UCF in March. A former assistant at the University of Florida, he has instilled a trapping, up-tempo style that has produced routs of West Florida and Jackson State by a combined 95 points.
UCF won despite getting just one field goal and 10 points from leading scorer Marcus Jordan. The sophomore guard and son of NBA legend Michael Jordan came into the game averaging a team-high 20.5 points, but made just 1 of 7 field goals. His basket, a 3-pointer, put UCF ahead for good (45-43) with 13:06 to play.
Michael Jordan was in attendance and sat high above the court in a second-level suite. Jordan's oldest son, Jeffrey Jordan, is also a part of the UCF team, but must sit out this season after transferring from Illinois.
USF is rebuilding following the loss of Dominique Jones to the NBA. The Bulls, who were upset in their season opener against Southern Miss, were led in scoring by Ron Anderson with 18 points. The Bulls shot just 42.9 percent (21 of 49) and committed 17 turnovers.
Down nine points at the break, USF got consecutive 3-pointers from Hugh Robertson and Shaun Noriega and took a 41-40 lead seven minutes into the second half.
UCF missed its first five shots of the second half, but got going on a spectacular play by sophomore power forward Keith Clanton (11 points and five rebounds). After his shot was blocked near the rim, Clanton regained the ball and passed behind his back to Dwight McCombs for a dunk. Remarkably, UCF had just four field goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half but still led 48-47.
UCF led 38-29 at the half despite Jordan and Clanton, its two leading scorers, playing just six minutes and nine minutes respectively. UCF executed well offensively and forced USF into its hurry-up style. The Bulls committed 10 first-half turnovers, often struggling to get the ball up against UCF's full-court pressure.