UCF (11-5) at Houston (12-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 19, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479) -- Houston, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UCF 9-3, Houston 9-1. Away Record: UCF 2-2, Houston 3-3. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, Houston 0-0. Conference Record: UCF 1-1, Houston 1-2. Series Record: Houston leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: The Houston Cougars return home to Hofheinz Pavilion on a two-game losing streak to face the UCF Knights in Conference USA action on Saturday.
This will be just the 14th meeting in the all-time series. Houston holds an 8-5 all-time series lead despite the Knights winning three of the last four encounters.
James Dickey's Cougars dropped a tough, 89-78 decision at East Carolina on Wednesday, marking their second consecutive loss. Houston is now 12-4 overall but just 1-2 in the C-USA standings. It has won its last six at home where it is an impressive 9-1 so far. The Cougars have succeeded this season behind their run and gun attack, which gives them the second highest scoring offense (78.0) in the C-USA, but just the ninth best scoring defense (68.8).
Danuel House led four Houston players in double-figure scoring with 22 points in the team's loss to the Pirates. TaShawn Thomas (18 points, eight rebounds), Joseph Young (15 points), and Leon Gibson (14 points, nine rebounds) all added solid performances in a losing effort. Young and Thomas are the fourth (17.2) and fifth (16.3) leading scorers in the C-USA, respectively. Thomas is also third in rebounding with 9.6 caroms per tilt.
The visiting Knights have an answer for Thomas inside in C-USA Preseason Player of the Year, Keith Clanton. The senior power forward is near a double- double average with 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Clanton has been the undeniable leader for UCF on the way to its 11-5 record. It fell to 1-1 in league play last Saturday when it was clipped, 88-85, by ECU in an overtime thriller.
The Knights are a versatile bunch who can play successfully at different tempos. Donnie Jones's squad showed its goal of stopping the Cougars is very attainable earlier this season when it limited Belmont to 63 points on 37.3 percent shooting on Dec. 29. While he is being overshadowed by his All- Conference teammate, Isaiah Sykes is having himself a productive season with averages of 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. Sykes was cold versus ECU his last time out, going 3-of-9 from the field for just six points. Clanton was spectacular with 36 points and eight boards while Tristan Spurlock notched a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Spurlock is a serviceable third option as he nets 10.8 ppg. Kasey Wilson is also just under a double-figure average (9.9) despite being held in single digits in his last four outings.
Both of these teams played pretty evenly with East Carolina, indicating they are not too far apart. The battle inside between Clanton and Thomas will play a big factor. Both these teams have an array of talented scorers. A big performance out of a role player such as Spurlock or Gibson will make the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 75, Houston 70
01/19 10:37:06 ET