"Obviously you're not going to shoot like that very often, you'd like to shoot like that from the free throw line (90.9%) for sure, but we're not going to make that many shots," Knights head coach Kirk Speraw said.
After the Knights raced out to an 11-6 start, the Thundering Herd charged back into the game and took a brief 14-13 advantage. The teams traded buckets early on as UCF's zone defense was ineffective against a solid shooting Marshall team. Midway through the first half, the two teams went on a three-point shooting barrage as Marshall junior Chris Lutz hit a pair of shots from long range and Knights freshman Issac Sosa matched him with a pair of shots from long distance.
UCF star guard Jermaine Taylor was noticeably off target early on as he missed three of his first four attempts from the field, including two air balls. Taylor then began to heat up as he drained three shots in a row including two from behind the arc. With the game tied at 39, Taylor hit two more three point shots, followed by an A.J. Tyler three to give UCF their largest lead of the half at 48-39. The Knights traded hoops at the end of the half to enter the break at 50-41.
"We were feeling it today, we got a whole bunch of extra shots in and it paid off," Jermaine Taylor said in the post-game press conference.
The Knights shot a blistering 19 of 27 from the field (70.4%) in the first half and an even better 7-9 from behind the arc (87.5%). Taylor led UCF with 15 points on 6-11 shooting. Marshall hit on an impressive 17 of 32 from the field (53.1%) including 6 of 13 from three-point range. Chris Lutz led the Herd with 14 points including 4-7 from behind the arc.
"I thought we had good offense and good movement, we were shooting things in rhythem for the most part in the first half," Speraw said. "It scared me to death that we were shooting 70% and it was still a close game."
The Marshall Thundering Herd began the second half playing defense, and after a pair of field goals from Dago Pena and Markel Humphrey, they trimmed the UCF lead to three points. In need of a big play, Jermaine Taylor was just what the doctor ordered as he came up with a steal and then rocked the rim with a perfectly thrown alley-oop by Taylor Young. UCF then scored on a A.J. Tyler dunk to rebuild their lead to seven at 56-49. A pair of threes by Tyler and Taylor gave the Knights their largest lead at 62-51.
"It's always good to get plays like that because not only does it energize us and it energized the crowd," Taylor said. "When they're energized and into the game, it makes us play harder. When I got the dunk, everyone got going and everyone got excited and it helped us out."
The Knights would extend the lead all the way to 22 points and would never look back as they recorded their third consecutive Conference USA victory. Jermaine Taylor led the Knights with 27 points on 9-18 shooting. Sophomore A.J. Tyler chipped in with 15 points on 5-6 shooting as well as seven rebounds. A.J. Rompza played another fine all around game as he scored just four points, but grabbed four rebounds and dished out seven assists.
"Rompza pushed the ball really good, and we were really able to run and push the ball and they got tired," Taylor said.
After hitting on nearly 50% of their three-point attempts in the first half, Marshall connected on just 3 of 12 threes after intermission. Chris Lutz led the Herd with 20 points, scoring just six in the second half. Shaquille Johnson added 12 points and Markel Humphrey chipped in with 12.
Knights Herd Marshall
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