TAMPA, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – Isaiah Sykes had an incredible performance with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high eight assists as the UCF men’s basketball team opened the season with a dominating 74-56 victory at USF Saturday. The win at the Sun Dome gave UCF its first victory over the Bulls, who won two games in the NCAA Tournament last year, since 1978.
The Knights, who hardly trailed during the evening, shot 50.0 percent overall and finished with a 45-26 edge on the glass. Sykes was one of four UCF (1-0) players who finished with double digits in scoring. Keith Clanton finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
“It was an incredible win for our program and our school,” UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. “I am very proud of this team. I thought we played a great team (game). We had four guys in double figures tonight and played very unselfishly. The thing I am really proud of is that we played a lot of guys out of position. Isaiah Sykes hasn’t played one minute at point guard in his career until tonight. I am very proud of him.”
The Knights dominated from the start. UCF led 40-24 at the break after a first half filled with dunks, offensive rebounds and incredible play at the point from Sykes. The junior had 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in the opening stanza.
UCF shot 45.2 percent in the first half, when it outrebounded the Bulls (0-1) 25-13.
The Bulls, who were playing their first game inside the renovated Sun Dome, got within 12 points with 8:28 left in the contest, but the Knights responded with a huge 3-pointer from Kasey Wilson that handed UCF a 59-46 advantage.
UCF and the Bulls will also meet in Orlando on Jan. 2 at the UCF Arena.
UCF limited the hosts to a 36.4 percent shooting performance. Tristan Spurlock totaled 14 points in the winning effort, and Wilson added 13 points and six rebounds. Jawanza Poland led USF with 22 points.
The Knights’ home opener is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Alabama State.