GAINESVILLE, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Despite a valiant effort Friday, the UCF men's basketball team came up short at No. 7 Florida, falling 79-66 at the O'Connell Center. The Knights, who were led by Kasey Wilson's career-high 20 points, had their starting five account for all of its points against the deep Gators.
Florida (5-0) led by 18 points at the break, but the Knights (3-2) came out strong after intermission. UCF opened the period with an 11-0 run and cut the Florida deficit to 42-35 with 17:25 left when Tristan Spurlock nailed a 3-pointer. The Gators quickly responded with a 3-point play from Patric Young and a triple from Boynton and eventually built their lead back up to 21 points.
The Knights refused to go away and continued to show heart until the final whistle and finished the game on a 13-5 run. UCF outscored the Gators 42-37 in the second half when they shot 57.1 percent overall and made 8-of-10 (80.0 percent) of its shots from 3-point range.
"I was proud of our guys tonight," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "I was really proud of the kids; how they competed, especially more in the second half than in the first half. Give Florida credit, I thought they played extremely well."
Florida finished with a 41-27 rebounding edge and received 28 points off its bench.
Wilson connected on 5-of-6 3-pointers and scored 15 of his points in the second half. Tristan Spurlock added 14 points for the Knights in 39 minutes. Isaiah Sykes totaled 12 points, a game-high nine boards and six assists in 38 minutes and Keith Clanton finished with 11 points and a pair of steals in 40 minutes.
UCF and Florida were meeting for the first time since their memorable 2010 contest at the Amway Center in Orlando.
The Gators led 42-24 at the break after recording 12 offensive rebounds and scoring 13 second-chance points in the opening stanza. The Gators drained six 3-pointers in the first half.
Boynton led Florida with 24 points. The Gators forced 19 UCF turnovers and scored 27 points off the turnovers.
UCF was playing in Gainesville for the first time since 2005. The game served as the Knights' third contest of the week. The team hosted Savannah State Sunday and Middle Tennessee Tuesday.
UCF will return to action on Dec. 1, hosting Florida Tech at 4 p.m. at the UCF Arena.