MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Joe Jackson scored 18 points and Shaq Goodwin added 14 as No. 20 Memphis used a late second half rally to defeat Central Florida 76-70 on Wednesday night.
The Tigers (19-5, 8-3 American Athletic Conference) crafted a 15-2 run in the latter stages of the second half to break open a tight game.
Chris Crawford and Michael Dixon finished with 10 points each for Memphis.
Tristan Spurlock led the Knights (9-13, 1-10) with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Isaiah Sykes scored 14 points. Kasey Wilson scored 10 as Central Florida lost its ninth straight.
The 15-2 rally took the Memphis lead to 68-54 when Dixon hit two free throws with 2:13 left.
The Knights chipped away at the advantage in the final 2 minutes, but it was too large for them to threaten down the stretch.
Central Florida scored nine straight points to take the lead early in the second half before Memphis tied the game at 46 with 11:44 left.
Memphis continually struggled to hold onto the basketball as the UCF defense became physical and pestered the Tigers. Additionally, the Knights were controlling the boards, particularly the offensive glass. The Tigers led 53-52 with 5:16 left after Central Florida's Kasey Wilson dunk.
Then Memphis took over with its game-changing run. A dunk by David Pellom on a fastbreak after a Central Florida turnover made it 64-54 with 3:32 left.
Memphis appeared in control of the game during the middle stages of the first half. UCF went almost 6 minutes without scoring as the Tigers clicked off 16 consecutive points for a 29-16 lead.
But the Knights answered 10 straight, and Memphis managed to reach halftime with a 36-30 lead, thanks to a last-second basket by Pellom - his only field goal of the half.
Spurlock led UCF with 12 points, hitting 4 of 6 shots, including half of his four shots from outside the arc.
Both teams were shooting just above 46 percent, despite Sykes and Calvin Newell, UCF's top two scorers going a combined 3 of 10, Newell missing all three of his shots.
Newell, who entered the game averaging 11 points, was held to 3, finishing 1 of 5 from the field.
At one point in the first half, official Jim Burr had a fan tossed from the front row after the spectator said something to the veteran referee. It was unclear exactly what was said.