ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Kasey Wilson scored 19 points and had nine rebounds as Central Florida rolled past Rio Grande 86-58 in the first round of the Jackson Hewitt UCF Holiday Classic.
Daiquan Walker added 11 points for the Knights (7-3), who won their fourth straight. Tristan Spurlock, Eugene McCroy and Matt Williams had nine points apiece for UCF, which outscored Rio Grande 45-22 in the final 18 minutes of the game.
“We got up early in the game and just got complacent,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to learn that when we get a team down, close them out. It took us awhile to do it, but we eventually got enough energy to put them away.”
Josh Reagan led Rio Grande (7-5) with 19 points. Phillip Hertz had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Red Storm, an NAIA school that played the game as an exhibition.
UCF, which hit 13 of 24 attempts from 3-point range, rode the hot perimeter shooting to a 19-point lead to start the game. The Knights hit five 3-pointers and were up 33-14 after Spurlock finished a fastbreak with a thunderous jam down the middle of the lane with 7:35 left in the half.
That, however, was the last highlight of the half. UCF committed five turnovers and went 0-for-5 from the free throw line the last seven minutes of the half. The Knights also tried to go a little too deep into their bench and Rio Grande took advantage with its best run of the game.
The Red Storm outscored UCF 18-8 over the final 7:18 of the half to close the gap to 41-32 by halftime. Jermaine Warmack contributed two 3-pointers, the first Rio Grande baskets from outside the restricted area in the lane and Reagan and Hertz pounded the Knights inside as the Red Storm made UCF nervous.
When Rio Grande scored the first two baskets in the first 1:30 of the second half to cut the deficit to 41-36, UCF called timeout to regroup and replace starters Isaiah Sykes, Calvin Newell and Dylan Karrell.
The Knights sent out backups Daiquan Walker, Issac Lang and Matt Williams, who hit four straight 3-pointers between them, sandwiched around a driving layup by Spurlock. The 3-pointer by Williams made it 61-40 with 11:29 left in the game.
Rio Grande never got closer than 16 the rest of the game.
“We started playing with energy, effort and execution after that change,” UCF Coach Donnie Jones said. “And we started playing defense again. When you get that combination going, you’re going to be successful.”
UCF used mostly reserves the rest of the game and got solid contributions from each of them. McCroy had all nine points and three rebounds in the second half. Lang hit his only two shots — both 3-pointers — and Brandon Goodwin added six points and two assists as the Knights bench contributed 47 points, 23 rebounds and nine assists.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)