Orlando, Fla. – Sophomore Keith Clanton tallied 21 points and 19th-ranked UCF held Furman to a season-low 33% shooting as the Knights topped the Paladins 71-53 in the opening game of the UCF Holiday Classic on Wednesday evening at the UCF Arena.
The loss snapped Furman's five-game winning streak and dropped the Paladins to 8-3 on the season. UCF remained unbeaten at 12-0 and improved to 8-0 at home. Furman will face either Northeastern or Princeton in the consolation game of the four-team tournament at 5 p.m. on Thursday while the Knights will play in the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
UCF led wire-to-wire to maintain its status as one of eight unbeaten teams in the country. Clanton, who connected on 8-of-16 shots and scored 14 first half points, led four Knights in double figures. Marcus Jordan came off of the bench to total 15 points, including 3-for-3 shooting beyond the arc, and Isaiah Sykes and Tom Herzog added 12 and 10 points, respectively, as UCF's bench outscored Furman's reserves 44-13.
The Knights fashioned the decisive run of the game late in the first half. Leading 31-25 with under four minutes left in the first period, UCF's Jordan buried a three-pointer and Herzog followed with a lay-in to up the margin to 11. Clanton converted a three-point play at the foul line a minute later to increase the lead to 39-25 with 1:37 to play in the first half.
Furman, who failed to get closer than 12 points in the second half, was limited to 33.3% (20-60) shooting from the field while UCF connected on 49.1% (26-53) of its field goal attempts. The Paladins earned a 38-36 edge on the glass and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, but the Knights outscored Furman 38-28 in the paint and matched the Paladins with 20 second chance points.
Senior Amu Saaka paced the Paladins with 17 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 at the charity stripe. The Decatur, Ga., native added seven rebounds in 29 minutes of action. Colin Reddick overcame early foul trouble to net nine points and grab a career-high 13 rebounds in 20 minutes of play. Jordan Miller added eight points for Furman.
Paladin fans can follow all of Thursday's action at the UCF Holiday Classic with the "Voice of the Paladins" Chuck Hussion on the Furman Network at WGOG-FM 96.3 and WOLT-FM 103.3. Furman basketball can also be heard through Stretch Audio at www.furmanpaladins.com.