UCF basketball preview: Golden Knights look to extend their winning ways at East Carolina
CUSA Fans new UCF Correspondent Ryan Westin brings us a preview of the basketball game between the UCF Golden Knights and the ECU Pirates.
Be sure to check out the ECU vs. UCF preview from our ECU Correspondent too!
The UCF Golden Knights travel north this Wednesday to Greenville, North Carolina to take on conference foe East Carolina University. The Golden Knights look to maintain their ground near the top of the Conference USA standings as they enter a stretch of their schedule that has three of the next four games on the road.
East Carolina looks to avenge three losses to UCF last season. UCF is coming off of a victory over Tulsa at home Saturday in an emotional win that sent its players into the stands to celebrate after pulling out the victory. The Golden Knights currently share second place in the standings with Houston and Rice with eight conference games remaining.
Junior guard Darrell Jenkins, who leads the team with 12.7 points per game while also being tops in the conference with 5.7 assists per game, leads East Carolina. Jenkins looks to rebound from East Carolina’s last outing at Rice where he was held to 6 points.
UCF leads the all time series with East Carolina, 5-0. Their last meeting was in the first round of the Conference USA tournament in which UCF built a 42-16 advantage at the half. East Carolina rallied but could not overcome the large deficit at intermission and lost 65-52. East Carolina's last conference win came at home on February 18th, 2006 against Marshall in which they won 63-59.
UCF is currently ranked 32nd in the country shooting 48.4% from the field and are tied for 17th in the country shooting 40.3% from beyond the arc.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
- UCF needs to finish strong - UCF's two conference losses on the road this year have been come from behind victories by the host. UCF had a 10-point lead with 3 minutes remaining at UAB when UAB wrapped up the second half with a 16-6 run the final three minutes to force overtime. UAB went on to win by 10 and hand UCF its first conference loss of the year. At Houston, UCF led by 22 points in the second half when the home team again made an improbable comeback and won in overtime.
UCF needs to avoid a common tendency they develop when the Knights get out to a big lead, but let their opponents hang around rather than slamming the door. UCF must correct this problem before the post season in order to go deep in the conference tournament and beyond.
- Lucky 7 - When UCF hits from behind the arc seven or more times they are 11-4. UCF’s top three-point shooters are guards Mike O'Donnell and Jermaine Taylor. Taylor is shooting 45 percent from three while O’Donnell is knocking down 46.6 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
OVERTIME - UCF @ ECU
- Can UCF place itself on the bubble? - Last year, in its first season of C-USA action, UCF started the season strong as they have done so far to date. UCF started conference play with a 3-1 record; however, the Golden Knights then lost five of their last six road games to end up at 7-7 in conference last year. Currently, UCF is 5-3 in conference and has a crucial road trip with three games on the road in the next ten days against East Carolina, Tulane and Rice. When UCF’s frequent flyer miles are tallied and they return home from Houston we will be able to tell if UCF will have be experiencing deja vu or if they appear to be springing forward and placing themselves into a possible “bubble” team.
After Wednesday’s game, UCF returns home to UCF Arena to face Marshall. The Knights defeated the Thundering Herd, 78-71, earlier this season in Huntington, West Virginia. Tip-off on Saturday is set for 12 PM. The game will be broadcasted live on CSS.
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