Markis McDuffie scored a game-high 23 points Wednesday night as Wichita State snapped a four-game losing streak and handed Central Florida its first American Athletic Conference loss with a 75-67 verdict at Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan.
Samajae Haynes-Jones added 14 for the Shockers (8-8, 1-3), which entered the night as one of only two AAC teams without a conference win. Jamarius Burton tallied 12 points as Wichita State shot 51.9 percent from the field and hit 17 of 18 free throws.
Aubrey Dawkins led the Golden Knights (13-3, 3-1) with 22 points, while B.J. Taylor scored 15 and Dayon Griffin more than tripled his scoring average with 10 points. But UCF made only 42.3 percent of its field-goal attempts and was pounded 35-22 on the boards, grabbing just six of the available 30 rebounds off its missed shots.
Tacko Fall, the Knights’ 7-6 center, converted a 3-point play with 2:42 left to pull them within 63-62. But Dexter Dennis’ putback at the 2:10 mark gave the Shockers a three-point edge. Wichita State put it away at the foul line by canning eight straight attempts over the final 1:48.
The result dropped UCF out of first place in the conference. It trails No. 21 Houston, Cincinnati and Temple by a half-game.
Neither team got off to a fast start offensively, perhaps because of the unusual starting time of just past 9 p.m. local time. At the second TV timeout, the score was tied at 7 with 11:31 remaining in the first half.
Wichita State found its footing first on offense, going on a 13-2 run that lasted just over five minutes. Haynes-Jones capped it by sinking a jumper with 8:35 left in the half for a 17-9 advantage.
That margin held up for the half’s remainder, even though the Golden Knights made little runs that cut the deficit to three at one point. Burton closed the half by drilling three foul shots after time had expired, giving the Shockers a 33-25 lead at intermission.
—Field Level Media