- Associated Press - Sunday, February 2, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Central Florida needed someone to make up for star guard Isaiah Sykes‘ off-night, and Tristan Spurlock filled the role for a while.

Spurlock scored 18 points before a personal foul and technical foul in quick succession midway through the second half stalled his momentum and helped end the Knights’ chances in an 87-70 loss to No. 12 Louisville on Saturday night.

Spurlock fouled Montrezl Harrell in the lane with 13:04 remaining, sending the Louisville forward to the floor. Harrell quickly popped up and got in Spurlock’s face, and officials whistled Spurlock with a technical for what UCF coach Donnie Jones was told was a “comment” by the senior forward.

“It’s something that happened,” Spurlock said. “I had to deal with it. It was tough for us. I felt like it really hurt us as a team. It took us out of it a little bit.”

Spurlock went to the bench having hit 6 of 9 shots, including 3 of 6 3-pointers. He didn’t take another shot after picking up his fourth foul, hitting only two free throws following a technical foul on Louisville’s Terry Rozier in the final minute.

He finished with 20 points.

The game was out of reach long before that for UCF (9-10, 1-7 American Athletic Conference), which dropped its sixth straight.

Spurlock started the Knights’ first 16 games but has come off the bench in the past three games. Jones wanted to take pressure off of him, saying he’s been pressing too hard.

Sykes was the one who pressed against Louisville, hitting just 2 of 12 from the field. UCF’s leader in points, rebounds and assists per game, he scored eight points, just half of his season average.

Sykes hit just one of his first 10 shots and his 11th attempt - an off-balance, left-handed layup - rattled in with 3:53 remaining to make it 77-64. He finished with 11 rebounds.

Spurlock picked up the slack and had half of UCF’s 40 bench points.

“If we continue to get that kind of contribution, we’re going to be OK,” Jones said.

The Knights needed a little more against Louisville (18-4, 7-2).

Russ Smith scored 27 points and Luke Hancock added 16 for the Cardinals, who made 52 percent (32 of 62) from the field. Smith’s 9-of-14 shooting included a pair of 3-pointers and led the way.

Montrezl Harrell had 14 points and seven rebounds and Wayne Blackshear added 10 points in his first start in five games as Louisville bounced back from Thursday night’s loss to No. 13 Cincinnati.

Story Continues →