Spurlock rallies UCF past Rutgers 67-65

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Tristan Spurlock scored 23 points and Isaiah Sykes added 14 to help Central Florida rally from a 15-point deficit in the second half and defeat Rutgers 67-65 Wednesday.

Kasey Wilson added 11 for the Knights (11-15, 3-12 American Conference), who outscored Rutgers 28-11 in the last nine minutes of the game to win for only the second time in their last 13 games.

“It’s nice to be in a tight game and finally win one,” UCF coach Donnie Jones said. “We’re learning how much toughness you need to win in this league, how to get some stops defensively to finish games and not just hang around. We did that tonight.”

Myles Mack led Rutgers (10-18, 4-11) with 19. Junior Etou scored 14 points and Kadeem Jack added 12. The Scarlet Knights led 54-39 in the middle of the second half and were still up 63-58 with 2:23 to play, but couldn’t hang on.

“When you’re up 15, you should win, but you’ve got to play 40 minutes and we played about 36,” Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. “We couldn’t come up with the need baskets in those last four minutes and they did.”

Rutgers led 35-26 at the half and held UCF without a field goal during a six-minute stretch in the middle of the second half. The Scarlet Knights pushed their advantage to 54-39 after Greg Lewis’ layup with 9:28 left in the game.

UCF responded with an 11-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers from Spurlock. His last bomb cut the deficit to 54-50 with six minutes left and the rally was on.

The Knights pulled within 63-62 when Sykes converted a fastbreak layup with 1:13 to go, but he missed the free throw attempt that would have made it a three-point play and tied the game.

Sykes made up for it on the next possession, driving right through the middle of the Rutgers‘ defense for a layup that put UCF ahead 64-63 with 41 seconds to play.

Calvin Newell added two free throws to push the lead to three and Rutgers couldn’t convert two opportunities to tie the game.

Spurlock’s free throw made it 67-63 with nine seconds to go and the best Rutgers could do was a meaningless layup by Etou with less than second to play.

“We’ve had a lot of late-game slip ups this season and this was a great way to show our fans that we’ve had enough and learned from our mistakes,” Spurlock said. “This is the way we’re supposed to play basketball.”

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