Posted: 7:16 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014
By Brian G. Many
A tough loss to swallow for the Bulls.
UCF, quite frankly, is not a very good basketball team. Going into today's game they had lost nine straight games. So why do the Bulls struggle against them? Quite simply, the Bulls just can not stop Isaiah Sykes.
He basically got what he wanted and ended with 27 points, including the tough shot that won them the game with 1.8 seconds left. "He made a difficult shot and that's why he's a very, very good player," said USF Head Coach Stan Heath. The Bulls knew how dominant he was with his left hand, but still couldn't do much to stop it.
The Bulls (12-14, 3-10 AAC) played well, with a high level of energy and intensity that they were able to sustain throughout the game. Junior guard Corey Allen Jr started out the scoring for the Bulls, hitting back to back three-pointers. Those would turn out to be the only points he scored in the game as he went zero for his next three.
Senior forward Victor Rudd had another strong game, registering 21 points and nine rebounds. He would be matched in scoring by his fellow senior Matino Brock, who had an exceptional game. Brock seemed to be everywhere and making all the big plays, aside from a few highlight reel dunks from Rudd. No one else got into the double digits for the Bulls. Junior guard Shemiye McLendon didn't have his best showing, making a number of questionable plays and flat blowing USF's final full possession.
For UCF (10-13, 2-10 AAC) Sykes was unstoppable, while Tristan Spurlock and Staphon Blair both had good games (16 and 12 points respectively). But it was the 6'10" 310 pound (ed note: taking the over on this one) freshman Justin McBride who was the standout. "He changed the game," said Victor Rudd. He dominated the inside and got 13 points and five rebounds. Even the 7'3" Jordan Omogbehin couldn't do much to stop him, as the first possession they were matched up McBride hit a turnaround fade away that made both players look feet shorter and hundreds of pounds lighter.
"I'm proud of our guys, we gave it everything we had," said Stan Heath. "It was just a bad break, but the kids played well."
Things do not get any easier for the Bulls, who now head to Kentucky in three days to take on Louisville. Tip off is set for 7 pm on Feb. 18th on CBS Sports Network.