ORLANDO, Fla. – Shawn Jones scored 18 points, had 13 rebounds and led a stellar defensive effort in the second half as Middle Tennessee defeated the University of Central Florida 75-61.
Raymond Cintron added 14 points for MTSU (3-1) and Neiko Hunter had 13 for the Blue Raiders, who limited UCF to just 33 percent shooting while outscoring UCF 45-28 in the second half. James Gallman and Marcos Knight had 11 apiece, while hitting four of five 3-pointers between them.
Tristan Spurlock led UCF (3-1) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Keith Clanton added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Knights.
Middle Tennessee ran off 13 straight points in the middle of the second half, 12 of them on a pair of 3-point plays by Jones and two more treys from Hunter to take a 64-50 lead with 5:59 left in the game.
The Blue Raiders, who had allowed UCF to shoot 54.5 percent in the first half when the Knights built a 33-30 lead, dug in to start the second half, all but shutting down Clanton and Isaiah Sykes, UCF's top scorers.
Clanton didn't get a shot the first 14 minutes of the second half and Sykes was scoreless before fouling out with 6:42 left in the game.
The defensive pressure paid off quickly as Jones started the 13-0 run with a three-point play and Hunter ended it with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to make it 64-50.
Clanton stopped the UCF slide, nailing his first shot of the second half on a 3-pointer with 5:36 left in the game. He made two free throws on the next possession to cut the deficit to 64-55, but that was as close as the Knights would get.
A 3-pointer and an emphatic dunk by Tweety Knight gave Middle Tennessee a 71-57 lead with 1:55 to go, and the Blue Raiders coasted home from there.