ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Keith Clanton and No. 19 Central Florida more than made up for an ailing Marcus Jordan.
Clanton scored 21 points and Jordan added 15 in limited action as the unbeaten Knights defeated Furman 71-53 Wednesday night in the UCF Holiday Classic.
Jordan, son of former NBA star Michael Jordan, didn’t start for the second straight game because of a sore ankle. He played 23 minutes.
“Marcus is playing at about 70 percent right now and that changes a lot of things for us,” coach Donnie Jones said. “He’s not able to get by guys the way he usually does. He’s missing that first step, but we’re learning to grind things out. We had a couple of guys step in and do a great job of giving us something off the bench.”
Those would be backup big men Isaiah Sykes, who scored 12 points, and Tom Herzog, who had 10. The two reserves helped the most in the second half when the Knights’ defense and ability to score inside kept Furman from getting closer than 12 points.
“We can’t expect to stay the same and play at the same level every night now,” Jones said. “Teams are playing us at a different level every night and our guys have to get used to that. I thought we did a good job with it tonight, but it’s only going to get tougher for us.”
Arnu Saaka was the only Furman player to reach double figures, scoring 17 points for the Paladins (8-3).
Clanton and Jordan were a sterling inside-outside combination in the first half when Central Florida hit 54.8 percent (17 of 31) from the field and built a 39-27 lead. Clanton hit six of his first seven shots, most of them driving layups past Palladins center Colin Reddick.
Jordan came off the bench and hit five of six jumpers, including two from behind the 3-point line for 12 points.
The Knights kept up the defensive pressure in the second half, limiting Furman to 29 percent shooting (9 of 31).