Marcus Jordan has been living up to his last name on the court, and that has helped keep Central Florida unbeaten in the process.
In the midst of the most productive stretch of his career, Jordan looks to continue his scoring surge when the Knights visit Houston on Saturday.
The sophomore guard scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to help No. 19 UCF (14-0, 1-0 Conference USA) defeat Marshall 65-58 on Wednesday. It was the second straight 26-point game for the son of retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his third 20-point effort in as many starts.
Like his father often did, Marcus Jordan has been effective at getting to the free-throw line during this stretch. He went 8 for 12 against Marshall, a game after hitting 11 of 13 foul shots.
“We coached our guys for two days on keeping (Jordan) out of the lane, but he was endless, endless, endless in getting in there,” Thundering Herd coach Tom Herrion said.
Jordan’s relentless approach helped UCF avoid its first defeat. He scored nine straight points during one stretch of the second half, then added two assists and a three-point play during a 10-0 run that helped the Knights erase a 40-34 deficit.
“Every time I go in the paint, I want to put the decision on the referee to call a foul or a charge,” said Jordan, who added five assists and six rebounds Wednesday.
Defense also has played a big role in UCF’s perfect start. The Knights limited Marshall to 28.6 percent shooting in the second half and are third in the country in field-goal percentage defense at 35.9. They had 11 blocked shots against the Herd - four by center Tom Herzog, who leads Conference USA with 35.
While UCF has done enough to stay unbeaten, its last five victories have come by eight points or fewer. The Knights also have played it tight against Houston of late, winning the last two meetings by a combined 10 points.
Jordan sparked UCF to a 68-65 home victory in the most recent matchup Feb. 16, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds, and the Knights held Houston without a field goal over the final 3:29.
The Cougars (8-6, 0-1) will be looking to bounce back from an 85-73 loss at Southern Mississippi on Wednesday. Houston led 38-36 at halftime but fell behind 51 seconds into the second half and never led again.
Adam Brown led the Cougars with 20 points, but Houston committed 16 turnovers to Southern Miss’ eight.
Houston should be happy to return to Hofheinz Pavilion, where it’s 7-1 and has won two straight. The Cougars had won three in a row at home over UCF before falling 77-72 on Jan. 20, as Jordan scored a team-best 23 points and added six rebounds.
Brown, who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Knights on Feb. 16, has scored at least 20 points in two of his last three games. The guard is averaging a team-best 14.6 points, but he’s been limited to a total of 17 on 6-of-20 shooting in two games versus UCF.