The Temple Owls and the Central Florida Knights both entered Saturday’s game 0-1 in the American Athletic Conference. UCF proved they were the slightly better team, posting a 78-76 victory in a nail-biter in Orlando, Florida. With the win, the Knights improve to 9-4 on the year and 1-1 in the AAC, while the Owls fall to 5-7 and 0-2 in the AAC.
Three players scored most of the Knights’ points. Isaiah Sykes was the star of the game and posted 23 points to go with a whopping 15 rebounds and six assists. Eugene McCrory added 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Kasey Wilson also threw in 18 points as UCF gutted out the win. For the Owls, Will Cummings was the best player on the floor, shooting 9-of-14 for a game-high 31 points.
The rebounding differential might have been the reason for UCF’s victory as they dominated on the boards, pulling down 41 to Temple’s 27. UCF’s 16 offensive rebounds especially hurt the Owls’ chances of pulling off a win on the road.
Central Florida is a very confusing team to watch. On one hand, they have extremely talented players and are defensively sound. On the other hand, they are inconsistent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team beat an upper-echelon team in conference, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if they got blown out against that same team.
UCF travels to Connecticut on January 11 to take on the UConn Huskies. If they can rebound well, I like their chances for an upset over a Huskies team who seemingly can’t pull down boards. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. ET.