ORLANDO (AP) — Tristan Spurlock scored 22 points and reserve guard Brandon Goodwin added 12 as the University of Central Florida routed Valparaiso 90-62 in the finals of the Jackson Hewitt Holiday Classic.
Eugene McCrory contributed 11 and Kasey Wilson and Isaiah Sykes had 10 points apiece for UCF (8-3), which won its fifth straight game and avenged an 85-70 loss to Valparaiso earlier this season. The Knights shot 51.7 percent for the game, including 11 of 19 from behind the 3-point line.
“That’s our best 40 minutes of the season against a really good team,” UCF Coach Donnie Jones said. “We made a lot of shots and when you do that, the rest of the game comes pretty easy, but we also played really good defense. I thought everybody who played contributed something and you’d like to see that every night.”
Valparaiso got 14 points from LaVonte Dority and 11 from Jubril Adekoya, but couldn’t make it a game after shooting just 20 percent (four of 20) in the first half and falling behind by 23 points.
The last two seconds of the first half were representative of the way things went for most of the game. Goodwin nailed a 3-pointer, then Spurlock stole the inbounds pass and was fouled. He made both free throws and the Knights went to halftime with a 43-20 advantage.
“We just didn’t have it tonight,” Valparaiso Coach Bryce Drew said. “We tried making adjustments in that first half to energize our guys, but we couldn’t find anything that worked. Give UCF credit for a lot of that. They made a lot of good adjustments from the first time we played them. They were really good defensively. They made us miss and then it got contagious. We couldn’t hit anything.”
UCF played its best half of the season the first 20 minutes, building a 23-point lead on 14 of 29 shooting that included eight of 12 from 3-point land. Spurlock was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers and had 12 points at halftime and Wilson hit 2 of 3 from behind the arc on his way to eight points. The Knights bench contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and no turnovers.
The Knights man-to-man defense dominated Valparaiso, limiting the Crusaders to four of 20 shooting before intermission and forcing 10 turnovers. Valpo scored only two field goals the final 14 minutes of the half and was 1-for-10 from 3-point land.
“That was the best we’ve played by far,” Spurlock said. “Sometimes we have a little letdown when the second unit comes in, but they were right in the flow and played great. We beat up on a really good team and never let up.”
Valparaiso found a little shooting touch in the second half, but not enough to overcome a leaky defense that let UCF score at will around the basket. The Knights had 10 dunks or layups in the first 10 minutes of the second half while building a 75-43 lead.
Valparaiso shot 51.6 percent in the second half and hit eight 18 3-pointers, but much of that came after UCF benched its starters and let the reserves take over. The Crusaders never got closer than 24 points in the last 10 minutes of the game.
“This was really our day,” Jones said. “We played well defensively and created our offense out of that, which is the way I like to see us play, We didn’t let anything get away from us, just a really good game for us all the way around.”
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