Game Notes: Memphis at UCF
Central Florida defeats Memphis for the first time in thrilling fashion.
by Nick Wilke / @njwilke
The UCF Knights racked up another quality win Wednesday night after they took down the Memphis Tigers, 68-67. With seconds left in the game, UCF forward Keith Clanton grabbed an offensive rebound and went right back up to score, tying the game at 67-67 and collecting the and one. Clanton made the free throw with four seconds left to put the Knights ahead.
Memphis failed to get off a last second shot. At the sound of the buzzer, UCF fans poured on to the court to celebrate the win with the players.
The win was big for the UCF program because it was the first time in school history that the Knights defeated Memphis out of 11 matchups. UCF came close last year in Orlando, but lost by one point after a game-winning three-pointer from Antonio Barton.
Clanton was the hero of the night for UCF, making the game-tying bucket and sinking the free throw that gave the Knights the win. It may have been the biggest free throw of his college career, but he treated it like he was in practice.
“We do a lot of situations in practice where if you missed a free throw, then we have to run. I just took it like that and just tried to make the free throw,” said Clanton.
He finished with 23 points on 9-12 shooting and 8 rebounds. Clanton was grateful for the win, but knows that this is just another step in the right direction for his team.
“It’s a good win for our program,” said Clanton after the win. “We just take it as one game, but we know [Memphis] is a good team. We haven’t beat Memphis before, so it was a good win, but we take it as one win because we have bigger goals.”
Junior guard Marcus Jordan, who finished with 20 points on 7-13 shooting, agreed with his teammate about the significance of the win.
“We just wanted to attack it as any other game,” said Jordan. “We didn’t want to put it on a pedestal, but we knew what it meant to the school. We just wanted to go out and leave everything on the court, and hopefully we left with a W and that’s what we did.”
UCF is now 14-4 overall and 4-1 in C-USA, which is good enough for second place in the conference behind Marshall. Last Saturday, UCF lost on the road to Marshall, 65-64.
UCF head coach Donnie Jones was the head coach at Marshall before his current tenure at UCF. He is now hoping to lead the Knights to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.
Jones has helped the team win many big games, but this one ranked high in his mind.
“It ranks right up there at the top,” said Jones about the win. “All those other ones are good wins, and they are all good for your program, but this is conference. You have to win your conference to get to the NCAA Tournament, so to me, this is the best win for the program because it was against the team that is at the top of our league… For our team to get that victory tonight is a great stepping stone to where we are trying to get to.”
Memphis has won five of the last six C-USA Championships and has been known to breed NBA talent. With the loss, the Tigers fell to 12-6 overall and 3-1 in C-USA. They will look the bounce back at home against SMU on Saturday night.
Jones spoke highly of Memphis after the game.
“It’s a great win for our program,” said Jones. “Memphis has always been at the highest level. They have set the bar for this conference with what they’ve done and everybody is always shooting to get to that level.”
UCF will return to action on Saturday in Alabama against UAB and look to continue their run at the C-USA championship. They are still in the process of building their Tournament resume with quality wins.