Marcus Jordan continued to improve in his freshman season Tuesday night, leading the University of Central Florida men's basketball team to a 68-65 win over Houston in Orlando.
This was UCF's second win over Houston this year, sweeping the season series. The Cougars held a slight lead over UCF in the conference standings heading into Tuesday's match-up.
Jordan, meanwhile, completed one of his most impressive efforts of the season. He led the Knights with 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Jordan recorded a season-high 23 points against Houston in the teams' first meeting a few weeks back.
The defense from Jordan down the stretch was key in securing the win for the Knights—especially in an important block he made with two minutes left to go. Meanwhile, Jordan provided a great mix of offensive skill, with drives to the basket and outside shooting that broke down Houston's defense.
Other impressive performances came from AJ Tyler, who scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds, and AJ Rompza, who scored eight points and dished 10 assists. Freshman Keith Clanton continued to dominate the boards with 10 rebounds against the Cougars.
The Knights held a five-point lead with a minute left, but they let Houston hang around by missing free throws down the stretch. Houston had the chance to tie the game as time expired, but a Cougars three-pointer went wide as the buzzer went off.
The Knights improved their season record to 13-12, with a 5-6 mark in conference. They moved ahead of Houston in the standings with the win to seventh.
This was an important game for UCF in positioning and confidence heading into the final stretch of the regular season. The Knights will not be expected to take part in any postseason play after the trip to Tulsa for the conference tournament, but they could rally off a few games and cause some havoc for teams with higher expectations.
The resilience of the team must be saluted, mostly because they are such a young squad. They've dealt with controversy and some mediocre play—as well as some tough losses—but they have continued to fight back and win some impressive games.
Hopefully, the Knights will continue to improve their play and build some momentum for the end of the year. The youth and inexperience on the squad is starting to turn into poise and solid play as the season goes on.
Nights like tonight continue to build the expectations and fanfare surrounding the UCF basketball program. As this young squad continues to collect wins and the crowds stay respectable, hopefully the rest of Orlando will start to take notice.
UCF, winners of two in a row, will travel to Southern Miss this weekend, then come home for an important game against UAB next Wednesday night. Both teams sit ahead of the Knights in the standings and will be important for tournament positioning.