College Basketball Invitational Quarterfinal Recap - Central Florida 66, Rhode Island 54

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Keith Clanton scored 16 points to lead the Central Florida Knights to a comeback victory over the visiting Rhode Island Rams in a College Basketball Invitational tournament quarterfinal contest Monday night.  The Knights earned a spot in the CBI semifinals with the win over the Rams at UCF Arena, but it wasn’t easy for Coach Donnie Jones’ team.

Playing before an amped-up crowd of nearly 4,000, the Knights seemed overcome by the moment, falling behind early in the first half.  While UCF struggled from the field, making just 12 of 39 shots from the field in the first half (30.8 percent), Rhody was hot; especially star forward Delroy James.  The All-Atlantic 10 selection scored nine of the his team’s first 13 points, as the Rams parlayed a quick start, and an accurate 5-of-12 shooting performance from three-point range into a 30-27 halftime lead.  The second half proved to be a different story for the Rams, however, as they shot just 39.1 percent from the field (9-of-23), and made one three-pointer in six attempts.  

The second half was also a different story for the home team, which began the second stanza with an 18-5 run to open a 45-35 lead.  The Knights never looked back, as they shot 68-percent, hitting a tidy 17-of-25 shots from the field in the second half.  UCF also clamped down on the defensive end, limiting James’ scoring opportunities and guarding the three-point line.  The Knights defensive effort was evident, as James, who finished with 18 points, was the only Rams player to score in double figures.  

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While Marcus Jordan struggled, scoring only four points and making just 2-of-11 shots from the field, his teammates stepped up.  Rangy 6-8 sophomore forward Clanton, made 7-of-13 shot from the floor, as the Knights outscored the Rams decisively in the paint, 48-24.  UCF pounded Rhody on the offensive glass, snaring 14 offensive rebounds, which they turned into a 20-2 advantage in second chance points.  Junior forward P.J. Gaynor grabbed four offensive boards to lead the Knights’ charge on the offensive glass while Clanton collected nine rebounds to lead UCF on the glass.  The Knights finished with a mammoth 39-25 rebounding advantage.  A.J. Taylor scored 11 points and Tom Herzog chipped in 10 points for UCF.

The Knights improved to 21-11 with the win.  UCF will face Boise State, 75-69 winners over Evansville in a CBI semifinal showdown Wednesday night.  

Rhody finished the season 20-14. 

By Tim Coyne
DFN Sports Staff Writer




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