UCF chokes under conference pressure

UCF chokes under conference pressure

By Bryan Levine
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Will the real UCF Knights please stand up? After dominating the non-conference games with a perfect 13-0 record and topping out at 17th on the ESPN rankings, the University of Central Florida Knights have not faired the same since entering conference play.

After winning their first game in conference against Marshall, the Knights have lost their last six contests, including Saturday’s game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham where the Knights were simply out matched late in the game when it mattered the most, losing 74-69.

The Knights were led by Center Tom Herzog who scored 20 points and guard Marcus Jordan wasn’t too far behind with 15 points and five assists.

Both were available for interview after the game and both of them appeared very defeated.
“Its our defense right now,” said Jordan. That’s something the head coach Donnie Jones agreed to as well. The UAB Blazers were 10 for 20 from beyond the arc.

The Knights have been missing speedy guard AJ Rompza, who is out with a foot injury, and it showed against the Blazers as they were able to quickly move the ball around the court leading to wide open shots.

“We played well enough to win the game tonight, but that’s not what happened,” said Jones after the game. In the second half the score was tied nine times and there was 10 lead changes. Throughout most of the second half it seemed like the Knights were playing like the 14-0 Knights, motivated and getting fast break dunks, but once they lost the lead with two minutes left the Blazers were in the midst of a 10-3 run.

In that span they went from being a team that hustles and seems motivated to being a team that seemed over matched and defeated; almost as fast as they went from being a nationally ranked undefeated team to a team in the cellar of the Conference – USA.

Up next for the Knights is the Memphis Tigers who just like the Knights spent some time in the national rankings . Coach Donnie Jones will still be looking for his 70th career win in his 8th try and we’ll see which Knights show up; the 14-0 Knights or the 0-6 Knights.