Game Notes: USF at UCF
The Sunshine State has more talent then you’d think.
Final Score UCF 65, USF 59
UCF (3-0) junior guard AJ Rompza scored 15 points and sank two free-throws with 16 seconds remaining in the game to lead his team past in-state rival USF (1-2) 65-59 on Thursday night in Orlando. Rompza, standing barely 5-9, also grabbed a team-high five rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
USF scored the first two points of the game, but that was their only lead of the half. UCF started to pull away after Isaac Sosa came off the bench and nailed two 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. With four minutes remaining in the half, Rompza scored on three straight possessions, making two three-pointers and a floater in the key, which gave the Knights a nine-point lead going into the half.
UCF came out flat in the second half, relinquishing their halftime lead within the first six minutes of the half. Augustus Gilchrist, USF’s second leading scorer from last season, was able to get some easy buckets in the paint to help his team keep close. The Knight’s consistent free-throw shooting in the second half (15-20) helped them keep Bull’s defenders passive on defense, which led to a 10-0 run by UCF with seven minutes remaining in the game. USF guard Jawanza Poland drained a three to cut the Knight’s lead to two points with 30 seconds remaining in the game, but Rompza hit two free throws to put the game away. Central Florida held on for the victory despite shooting just 22 percent from the field in the second half.
The Knights have now won three straight and are gaining momentum. UCF’s defense looked strong once again, forcing 18 turnovers and holding USF to 59 points. They’ve allowed only 159 total points over the first three games of the season.
USF will face Georgia Southern on Nov. 1 in Tampa.
These two teams are fighting to show that they should not be overlooked by basketball powerhouse schools like Miami, Florida, and Florida State. Both want to be considered as one of the top basketball programs in Florida. Being overshadowed by the other schools in the state makes it difficult for these programs to attract top recruits. UCF will get their chances to prove themselves this season with games against Memphis, Miami and Florida. USF is in the Big East, which always brings tough competition.
After losing first-team all Big East guard Dominique Jones to the NBA Draft, USF is looking to build on their success from last season. They finished with an overall record of 20-13 and 9-9 in the Big East. Jones was the conference’s leading scorer last season, averaging 21.4 points and 6 rebounds per game. Sophomore transfer Jawanza Poland has already earned a starting spot for the Bulls. Without Jones, USF needs somebody to step up and take over games. If no one fills the void, it could be a long season for the Bulls.
UCF finished last season with a record of 12-16. The team is coming into the season with a new head coach, Donnie Jones, who has recruited many players that have made it to the NBA such as Hassan Whiteside and Al Horford. Donnie Jones is looking to bring that type of talent to Central Florida, along with aggressive defense. Sophomores Marcus Jordan and Keith Clanton will be the main scoring options for the Knights this season. Over the summer, Jeffrey Jordan, son of Michael and brother of Marcus, transferred to UCF. This could mean that MJ himself could be at many more UCF games. Jeff will have to sit out this season to satisfy the transfer requirement. With the new defensive scheme that Jones brings to UCF, it’s very possible they can make some noise in Conference USA. After Memphis and Southern Mississppi, the C-USA is up for grabs.