East Carolina (13-8) at UCF (16-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: ECU 10-3, UCF 12-3. Away Record: ECU 3-5, UCF 4-3. Neutral Record: USM 2-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: ECU 4-4, UCF 6-2. Series Record: UCF leads, 13-6.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights try to string back-to-back wins together on Saturday when they welcome East Carolina for a Conference USA bout at UCF Arena.
After having their four-game winning streak stopped at the hands of Marshall on Feb. 2, UCF bounced back with a win over Southern Miss on Wednesday, as Isaiah Sykes drained a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left to lift the Knights to a 60-58 victory.
Sykes finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists for UCF, which is two games back of the conference lead. Tristan Spurlock netted a team-high 18 points, Calvin Newell added 13 points. Keith Clanton grabbed nine boards and blocked seven shots and Matt Williams provided 11 points off the bench in the win.
East Carolina, meanwhile, snapped a two-game losing streak last Saturday at Rice, as Maurice Kemp poured in a career-best 33 points to lead the Pirates to a 79-63 win. Ty Armstrong added 22 points and Miguel Paul dished out six assists for ECU, which won for only the second time in its last five tries.
The Pirates are now 4-4 in C-USA, marking only the second time the school has ended the first half of the conference season at or above. 500.
The Knights swept the season series in 2011-12, but ECU claimed the first matchup this season. UCF though, leads the all-time series, 13-6.
Clanton leads UCF and is fourth in the Conference USA with 16.1 points per game. His 9.3 rebounding average is the third best in the league and he needs one more board to become the school's all-time leader in rebounds. Sykes also adds noticeable scoring punch with 15.5 points per game. UCF is the middle of the road in the C-USA in both scoring offense (71.0 ppg) and scoring defense (64.4 ppg). It has managed to knock off some notable programs in South Florida, Belmont, and UAB this season despite having the second worst turnover margin (-2.1) in the C-USA.
The Pirates are the highest scoring team in the conference (77.2 ppg). That scoring average is also among the top 25 marks in the country as well. Ball movement has been the key for East Carolina which has handed out the eighth- most assists nationally (17.1 pg). Kemp currently leads Conference USA in scoring with 17.9 points per game, while averaging a league-best 17.5 points per game in conference play. Kemp also ranks among the league's top 15 overall leaders in steals (5th), rebounding (8th), blocks (9th), field-goal percentage (11th) and free-throw percentage (15th). Paul (12.9 ppg,6.0 apg) has led the team's impressive distribution efforts as the second leading assist-man in the conference.
The Pirates are very good at distributing the basketball and Kemp is as good as any player in the nation. However, they are going to need more than just him if they want to get past the Knights in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 81, East Carolina 74
02/09 10:39:58 ET