Central Florida ousts Temple in double OT

Central Florida guard Isaiah Sykes wrestles for the ball with Temple's Josh Brown (left) and Will Cummings in the first half in Memphis.
Central Florida guard Isaiah Sykes wrestles for the ball with Temple's Josh Brown (left) and Will Cummings in the first half in Memphis. (MARK HUMPPHREY / Associated Press)
Posted: March 14, 2014

MEMPHIS - Temple stretched the game into double overtime, but the Owls ran into too much Isaiah Sykes on Wednesday night.

Sykes scored a career-high 36 points as Central Florida earned a 94-90 victory in the American Athletic Conference tournament at the FedEx Forum.

Quenton DeCosey scored 28 points and Will Cummings 25 for Temple, which finished 9-22. Anthony Lee had 17 points and seven rebounds.

Early in the second half, Sykes drove for a layup and a three-point play that gave UCF (13-17) a 47-43 lead, and the Knights began attacking the basket with more frequency.

The Owls' balance kept them afloat and with 2:31 to play, DeCosey hit a corner three-pointer to give Temple a 75-70 lead. Seconds later, Lee blocked a layup try by Sykes - but he just kept coming with a three and a jumper to make it 75-all with two minutes to play.

Lee answered with a free throw and cleaned up a rebound after two UCF misses, but Temple couldn't cash in, and there was Sykes again, hitting a free throw to tie the score at 76-all with 39 seconds to go.

Temple worked the clock to eight seconds, but Lee missed a wild jumper. Kasey Wilson rebounded and UCF had one last try in regulation. Sykes put up what looked to be a game-winning 18-footer, but it didn't quite beat the buzzer.

Sykes, who did not play in the Owls' 76-68 overtime win over UCF on March 4, made up for lost time with 32 points in the first 48 minutes on 11-of-18 shooting (3 of 4 from three-point range). DeCosey led Temple into the overtime with 25 points while Lee had 17 and Cummings 16.

The Owls' offensive balance helped them steady themselves long enough to force a second overtime, rallying from four down to tie it at 82.

Sykes hit the basket that gave UCF an 82-78 lead midway through the OT, but the Owls did not go away. Dalton Pepper, who struggled much of the game to find his touch, hit two free throws with 46 seconds left. Cummnings tied things up with a steal and layup with 19 seconds left in the OT, and Sykes missed a three-point try.

Earlier in the day, Owls junior guard Jimmy McDonnell was named the AAC's men's basketball scholar-athlete of the year.

McDonnell, a forward from Jackson, N.J., has a 3.63 grade point average, majoring in civil engineering.

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