Isaiah Sykes posted his second triple-double of the season to lead UCF over East Carolina at the UCF Arena on Saturday afternoon, 83-73. Sykes finished with 20 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists to give the Knights a season series split with the Pirates.
Senior Maurice Kemp led the Pirates with 24 points and a team-high 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the year. Guard Miguel Paul also posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, becoming the seventh player in school history with 300 career assists.
Junior Ty Armstrong finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. Robert Sampson also scored double figures, adding 10 points in his first game since injuring his knee against UTEP on Jan. 30.
The game began as a back and forth affair as the lead changed seven times in opening 6:08 with an additional two ties over the next 1:22. The third and final tie of the game occurred with 12:30 left in the half as Kemp made a pair of free throws.
UCF then took control with 11 minutes left in the half, going on an 11-0 run in a span of 3:13 to open a 32-21 lead. The Pirates turned the ball over three times during the stretch and missed all three of their field goal attempts. Kemp stopped the run with a put back with 7:46 remaining, snapping nearly a five-minute scoreless drought.
The Knights extended their lead to 15 as Daiquan Walker, Tristan Spurlock and Sykes made three consecutive 3-pointers to cap their first half 3-point outburst.
UCF connected on 9-of-19 first half 3s, three by Spurlock and additional 3 from Newell. However, after halftime the Knights made just 2-of-8 to finish the game 11-of-27 (.407) behind the arc. The Knights led by 13 at halftime, 48-35.
After falling behind by 16 in the opening minutes of the second half, ECU began to slowly cut into the Knights' lead and had margin down to seven, 67-60, with 6:07 to play. Sykes and Spurlock then made back-to-back 3s to push the Knights' lead back to double figures, 73-60, with 4:36 left.
A layup by Kemp, 3-pointer from Akeem Richmond and dunk by Robert Sampson made it a six-point game, 73-67, with 3:04 remaining. Another 3 from Richmond made it a four-point game with 1:31 to play. That was as close as the Pirates would get.
A made layup from Sykes coupled with two Pirate turnovers in the final 1:19 allowed UCF to claim victory as Spurlock and Newell each sank two free throws inside of 45 seconds to seal the win.
Spurlock finished with 16 points and Keith Clanton 14 for UCF. Clanton also had six rebounds, becoming the Knights' career leader with 948.
The Pirates held UCF to just 37.1 percent shooting after halftime, but committed nine turnovers in the second 20 minutes. UCF only gave the ball away seven times the entire game. The Knights turned 16 ECU turnovers into 17 points.
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