UCF drops fifth straight game, fall to No. 22 Memphis


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Isaiah Sykes finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds in the Knights loss to Memphis.

Isaiah Sykes had a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for the UCF Knights, as they fell 69-59 to the No. 22 Memphis Tigers on Wednesday night at CFE Arena.

Sykes led all scorers with his 24 points, while also being the games leading rebounder with 12, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a tough shooting night for UCF.

The Knights finished the game shooting 39.7% from the floor and went 5-23 (21.7%) from behind the three-point line.

“We were forced, we took 23 three’s in a game,” said UCF head coach Donnie Jones following the game. “But some of those shots were wide-open and those got to go down and that’s the differences.

“Chris Crawford makes big shots when they need them and they make those shots, they take 11 of them and make 7.” added Jones.

UCF went into halftime tied with Memphis at 39-39, with Sykes leading all scorers with 14 points through the opening half.

Memphis was eventually able to give themselves a comfortable lead during the final five minutes of play, and eventually capitalized on some costly turnovers by the Knights during the final stretch of the game. Memphis would go on a 10-3 run to finish the game, clinching their 16th victory of the season.

“We played 35 good minutes of basketball and when you play a team like Memphis, or anyone in the league, you’ve got to play for 40,” said Jones after the game. “I just didn’t feel we did that.”

The Tigers outscored the Knights 17-4 on fast breaks for the game, while also outscoring UCF’s bench 18-11 for the game.

UCF did out-rebound Memphis 36-31, and also outscored the Tigers 38-26 in the paint.

 Joe Jackson led Memphis in scoring with his 17 points, while four players had 5 rebounds or more each for the Tigers.

With the loss the Knights’ record falls to 9-9 overall and 1-6 in American Athletic Conference play.

UCF will now travel to Louisville, Ky. where they will face the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals on Saturday, Feb. 1.