The 64-48 result over UAB was certainly assisted by the Blazers’ poor shooting night – they shot 26 percent from the field and were 0-for-23 from three-point range – but the credit should be spread around a bit more, too.
After the USF loss, Knights coach Donnie Jones talked about getting a bit more of a contribution from a fourth player – maybe Tristan Spurlock or Kasey Wilson, he said. And Spurlock came up with two big buckets in the second half for UCF.
The first broke UAB’s 8-0 run to start the second half. The Blazers had managed to tie the game at 31 with 15:52 left in the contest, and Calvin Newell knocked down a big three to give UCF the lead again at 34-31. Newell then found Spurlock across the court about 80 seconds later, and Spurlock knocked down the open look to restore a comfortable advantage.
When UAB pulled to within 49-42 with 7:11 remaining in the game, it was again Spurlock who answered, this time by getting to the rim for a bucket and earning the foul. He completed the three-point play to push the lead back to 10.
Spurlock finished with 12 points and four rebounds.
“I told him at halftime, he took three really good shots in the first half, wide open, they just didn’t go down,” Jones said. “But I said just don’t live on being a three-point shooter. You got to get into the paint, you got to get to the rim and be able to get fouled and do some other stuff. Just don’t be a catch-and-shoot guy. And I thought he did a better job. … I thought he was much more aggressive in the game.”
UCF also got some solid minutes from Matt Williams off the bench, Jones said. The freshman finished with eight points.
And though it was a relatively quiet night from Keith Clanton – he had just four field goal attempts – the senior finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds and continues to impact the game even as teams gameplan around removing him from the equation.
“They’re doubling, he’s going to see that a lot,” Jones said. “Our team will learn to adjust in time with that, but look at him tonight. … Just so efficient. Most guys sitting in the locker room with those kind of numbers would be disappointed even though we won, but he’s in there happy because we won and that just tells you what kind of winner Keith Clanton is.”
UCF will head up to East Carolina on Saturday for their first road conference game.