Knights post big win despite missing several key players

Knights+post+big+win+despite+missing+several+key+players

Bryan Levine

Forward Keith Clanton led the Knights in points with 28.

The University of Central Florida Men’s Basketball team opened its season by defeating the University of West Virginia Tech 81- 66 Saturday night at the UCF Arena, despite missing key players and playing shorthanded.The Knights had just eight players available for the pre-season opener., as UCF announced Saturday that senior guards A.J. Rompza and Jeff Jordan were being withheld indefinitely from competition pending resolution of NCAA eligibility. Junior guard Marcus Jordan, senior forward P.J. Gaynor, and junior center Josh Crittle did not play either, as the three were benched for violating team rules.

“I’m proud of the victory. Obviously we were a little short changed out there with a couple guys out tonight but I thought the guys that did play played well,” said Coach Donnie Jones. “It’s like a football team; you take three quarterbacks off your team and you play the fourth string, sometimes it’s kind of hard but I think our guys did a good job tonight.”

Junior forward Keith Clanton, an All Conference USA first-team selection, had a huge game for the Knights. Clanton scored a game-high 28 points, 17 which came in the first half, brought down 15 rebounds, dished out five assists, and chipped in with two blocked shots.

Clanton shot 11 of 19 from the field, three of five from downtown and three of four from the free throw line.
“Keith has to play with that kind of swagger like he’s the best player on court every night out,” said coach Jones. “We talk about that with him, and he played like that tonight. You can see the condition he’s in and it’s because he’s one of our hardest workers.”

Clanton received some solid contribution in the game from sophomores Isaiah Sykes and Tristan Spurlock. Sykes finished the game two assists shy of a triple double recording 18 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Spurlock also finished in double figures chipping in with 16 points.

Freshman Rod Days played a key roll in the Knights’ win as well. The 6’ 6’’ guard had 15 points, nine  coming from behind the three point line and played contributed definsively with two steals.

“Most freshmen, when they get out for the first time would be thinking a lot, but Rod has the ability to make the mid-range shot,” Jones said. “He is going to give us good minutes and I’m excited about him.”

UCF will open up the regular season next Saturday at home vs. Saint Thomas. Following the season opener UCF will then be traveling to Tallahassee to visit Florida State. Coach Jones hopes to have his entire team ready.

“Throughout the season there are going to be times when guys are hurt or out, and as I’ve told this team from day one, we are very deep and have a lot of pieces and tonight that showed.”