After completing a perfect non-conference schedule, Central Florida is looking to carry that success over to league play. To stay unbeaten, the Golden Knights will have to snap a three-game losing streak to their next opponent.
Marcus Jordan and the No. 19 Knights host Conference USA rival Marshall on Wednesday night, looking to get coach Donnie Jones a win against his former team.
UCF (13-0) is off to its best start since it joined Division I in 1984 and is two victories shy of matching the program’s best start, set in 1979. To draw closer to that, the Knights will have to exact revenge for a 121-115 triple-overtime road defeat to the Thundering Herd in the last meeting Feb. 27.
Jordan had 18 points but shot 5 of 16 in the loss, UCF’s fourth in the last five matchups.
The sophomore guard, though, is coming off one of his best games of the season despite being slowed by a sprained ankle. He’s had some additional time to rest, as UCF hasn’t played since beating Princeton on Thursday.
The Knights trailed at the half for only the second time this season, but Jordan scored 22 of his 26 points after the break in a 68-62 victory.
After coming off the bench the previous two games, Jordan was back in the starting lineup and played 32 minutes. He went 7 of 12 from the field and 11 of 13 at the free-throw line.
“The ankle was killing me the whole game, but I just kept telling myself to push through it,” said Jordan, averaging 16.0 points.
Jordan’s strong game helped UCF overcome a season-low eight points from leading scorer Keith Clanton. The forward, averaging 16.1 on the season, had 20 points and 12 rebounds against Marshall last season.
Jordan and his teammates will try to help Jones beat the squad he coached the previous three seasons. He led the Thundering Herd to a 24-10 record last season and a 55-41 mark overall before taking over at UCF.
Marshall (10-3) has been finding its stride under new coach Tom Herrion, winning two in a row and seven of eight. The Herd held off a second-half comeback attempt by St. Bonaventure in a 74-65 victory Saturday.
The Bonnies cut a 54-39 deficit to three in the second half, but Marshall responded with a 13-3 run to regain control. Damier Pitts scored a career-high 25 points and Shaquille Johnson added 14.
“This was a terrific road win for us coming in here and playing a good team,” Herrion said. “We buckled, but we did not fold, we made some big plays down the stretch and grabbed a quality win.”
Pitts is averaging 17.3 points in four games after missing the first nine because he was academically ineligible. He’s started the last two.
The Herd are one of the nation’s best teams at getting to the free-throw line, averaging 28.6 attempts. The Knights, however, are one of the best defensive teams in the country, holding opponents to 56.7 points and 17.2 free-throw attempts a contest.
Marshall had little trouble getting foul shots in the February matchup, setting school records with 43 made free throws and 67 attempts.