Still undefeated and playing with a wealth of confidence, the 19th-ranked UCF Knights will battle the Houston Cougars in a Conference USA clash today.
All eyes will be on the Knights once again, as all Donnie Jones has done in his first season at UCF is lead the program to its first-ever appearance in the Top-25. The Knights moved to 14-0 with a 65-58 triumph over Marshall in Wednesday's C-USA opener. Strong defense has been an obvious key to UCF's success, as the team has allowed more than 62 points just once thus far.
Houston opened the league portion of its schedule on Wednesday when it fell to Southern Miss by an 85-73 final. The Cougars are now 8-6 overall, but they do own a 7-1 mark at home and figure to play well today.
The Cougars own a 7-4 series advantage over the Knights, but UCF won the most recent meeting by a 68-65 final last season.
UCF continues to rely heavily on the duo of Keith Clanton and Marcus Jordan at the offensive end of the court. Jordan, the son of NBA legend Michael Jordan, is averaging 16.7 ppg on 50.7 percent field goal efficiency, including 43.1 percent from behind the arc. As for Clanton, he is netting 15.9 ppg on 53.2 percent shooting from the floor, and he is ripping down 8.8 rpg to go along with 31 blocks. The Knights are generating 76.2 ppg on 49.6 percent field goal efficiency, and they are holding foes to 56.8 ppg on 35.9 percent shooting. Jordan has scored 26 points in back-to-back outings, and he pitched in six rebounds and five assists in the win over Marshall last time out. Clanton added 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while Isaac Sosa scored 13 points. The Knights played tremendous defense in that affair, holding the Thundering Herd to 33.9 percent shooting from the field, including 2-of-17 from three-point range.
Against Southern Miss last time out, Houston connected on an impressive 56.5 percent of its field goal attempts. Unfortunately for the Cougars, they turned the ball over 16 times while forcing only eight giveaways. Also, they suffered a 26-22 rebounding disadvantage and permitted Southern Miss to shoot 55.6 percent from the floor. Adam Brown played well in defeat, as he shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc, and led Houston with 20 points. On a down note, he did turn the ball over five times without dishing out a single assists. Maurice McNeil tallied 12 points, and Zamal Nixon had 10 points and eight assists in the setback. Brown currently leads the squad with 14.6 ppg, and he is knocking down 46 percent of his three-point attempts. McNeil tallies 13.4 ppg, and Kendrick Washington pitches in 11.5 ppg.
Jordan has emerged as the go-to guy for UCF, and he is a tremendous young player in his own right. Performing in the shadow of a world-famous father is no easy task, but Marcus will be the leader of a 15-0 collegiate team by the close of Saturday's action.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 74, Houston 67