UCF basketball suffers terrible loss to Jacksonville

by Andrew Kennedy

The first thing the Knights need to do is forget about this game.

The UCF Men’s Basketball team lost 61-51 Wednesday night to Jacksonville in the championship game of its own holiday tournament. These teams weren’t scheduled to come to UCF and beat them.

Even though there are some obvious flaws with this team that were exposed in the game, the fact still remains that UCF played a bad game overall. Literally not one player had a good game and just about all of them played worse than normal.

Jacksonville hit two backbreaking three pointers in the final 2:17 to pull away from the Knights.

First, forward Lehmon Colbert stepped outside and drilled a trey to put the Dolphins ahead 52-50. Then with 1:19 left Ben Smith hit his third three-pointer of the night to give Jacksonville a 55-50 lead.

In the final minute UCF did nothing to help their cause in comeback.

Dave Diakite got fouled after an offensive rebound off his own missed three-pointer and missed both free throws. Sharpshooting guard Isaac Sosa then stepped to the line with the team down six and clanked the first free throw.

Freshman Keith Clanton put the icing on the cake with a nice spin move and finish with the game already decided that was negated by a bogus traveling call.

The Knights failed to hold a late lead after having comeback from a once 15-point deficit in the first half.

With 7:23 left in the game Sosa made a three-pointer to tie the game at 42. Sosa then made a steal back down the court that led to a driving dish from Marcus Jordan to P.J. Gaynor for a dunk that gave UCF their first lead since 5-3.

While the Knights got out of the gates slow, it still seemed like they would be able to come back and win. Jacksonville was shooting lights out and the Knights weren’t getting their usual buckets to fall.

UCF had scoreless dry spells lasting 5:18 and 4:21 in the first half during a stretch where they scored just four points in nine minutes.

A.J. Tyler, who has been coming around offensively having found a soft touch from midrange, struggled all night connecting on just two-of-11 shots. Clanton also had a tough time getting some easy buckets to go in the paint and was blocked a surprising amount of times in the second half.

When the outside shots weren’t falling and the Knights couldn’t get anything established in the post, they had nothing else to turn to. No one was able to create a shot off the dribble for himself or a teammate.

Only Jordan was given the opportunity down the stretch with a high pick-and-roll look but he reacted the same way every time and it only led to one basket.

Point guard A.J. Rompza could best be described as pointless for this game. He can’t hit outside shots. He can’t penetrate against decent perimeter defense and he’s too short to matter at all on defense unless he gets steals.

As a team, UCF finished shooting just 33.3 percent from the field for the game. Jacksonville also struggled somewhat but the difference came in the form of the long ball where the Dolphins held a 9-2 advantage in makes over the Knights.

This holiday tournament was supposed to serve as a nice tune up before conference play began. The Knights were just coming off two straight losses to Big East opponents South Florida and Connecticut and needed to get on track again.

Go ahead and add Jacksonville to the loss column now. That looks terrible. Sure UCF is still a young team and we can expect some hiccups along the way but a loss to the Atlantic Sun’s finest is unacceptable.

UCF is now 8-5 overall and will play at Ole Miss in their next game January 5.


Photo courtesy of www.ucfsports.com.