Mustangs lose to UCF despite second half rally
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 20:01
Despite a furious rally in the second half, the SMU Mustangs (11-10, 1-5 in C-USA) could not overcome the UCF Knights (14-5, 4-1 in C-USA), losing 74-65 Saturday evening.
Trailing 57-46 with eight minutes remaining, the dangerous backcourt of Ryan Manuel and Nick Russell began chipping away at the Knights late lead, scoring 11 of the Mustangs’ next 17 points to tie the game at 63-63.
The two guards had strong individual performances in the game, accounting for 32 combined points, while Manuel added 6 rebounds to go along with Russell’s 6 assists.
Even with their efforts, SMU was unable to finish the comeback as UCF finished the game on an 11-2 run and won, 74-65.
The Knights were led by junior guard Isaiah Sykes’ 21 points, 11 in the second half, and 10 rebounds. Sykes accounted for five of his team’s final 11, including a quick 3-points right after SMU had fought back to tie the game.
Despite Sykes’ game, the Mustangs were able to hold the Conference’s third best scorer and rebounder, forward Keith Clanton, to 9 points and 3 rebounds.
SMU held a seven point lead early in the first half, before UCF went on a 10-0 run and never looked back, as the Knights shot better than 46 percent for the game. They also shot a better free throw percentage than the Mustangs, something few opponents of SMU can say.
The Mustangs shot only 12 free throws during the game versus the 21 of UCF, who went 81 percent from the line to finish off the game.
With the loss, the Mustangs fall to tenth in the conference and just one game above .500 for the first time since the first game of the season.
SMU will look to recapture its early season form Wednesday night in the finale of a three-game road trip against Marshall. The Mustangs will need a win if their hopes of a late March are to come true.