Spurlock’s big play help rally Knights past Rutgers

Tristan Spurlock scored 23 points to help lead the UCF Knights to a 67-65 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday night at CFE Arena. UCF outscored Rutgers by 11 in the second half to take the win, which improves the Knights’ overall record to 11-15.

Isaiah Sykes contributed 14 points, including 11 in the second half to help the Knights overcome a 15-point deficit with 9:25 left.

Head coach Donnie Jones said after the game that the Knights came out and played more aggressively in the second half. “I think the biggest thing is at halftime we decided that we were going to step up and play at a different level,” said Jones.

Spurlock went four-of-eight from behind the three-point line and credited the Knights’ guards for finding the open shooters.

“We were shooting the ball well,” said Spurlock. “Our guards were doing a good job of driving and kicking to us shooters. This is how we are supposed to play basketball.”

The Knights were without Sykes for stretches of the game due to early foul trouble. Coach Jones praised the way Spurlock played when Sykes was out of the game. Jones also credited Spurlock for changing the momentum of the game into the Knights’ favor when Spurlock threw down a highlight-reel dunk in the second half.

“He’s 6’7” and got a Superman cape on when he wants to jump so he went down and had a big dunk,” said Jones. “I think it gave him some courage and gave him some confidence. I think it got our team to play with a little bit of an edge.”

“My teammates tell me just drive it and get low and jump,” said Spurlock on the dunk. “Nobody is going to jump with you. When I drove, nobody really stepped up around that arc. When I took off they just kind of hesitated and I just dunked.”

Sykes said he trusted his teammates to keep the game close while he was out. “Tristan Spurlock, Calvin Newell, Matt Williams and Kasey Wilson all contributed down the stretch and it showed in the effort in the win,” said Sykes.

The Knights have three games remaining during the regular season and play next at SMU on March 1.