MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Will Barton scored 17 points and Memphis sent once-ranked Central Florida to its fifth straight loss with a 77-61 victory over the Knights on Wednesday night.
Joe Jackson scored 12 points for Memphis, while Will Coleman and Chris Crawford added 10 points apiece as the Tigers (16-4, 5-1 Conference USA) won their fourth straight, while shooting 49 percent for the game (33 of 68).
Marcus Jordan led the Knights (14-5, 1-5) with 13 points, but was 3 of 11 from the field, part of UCF shooting 36 percent (22 of 62) for the game, including only 1 of 15 (6.7 percent) from outside the arc. P.J. Gaynor scored 10 points. Keith Clanton had seven points and 12 rebounds.
Memphis built a 19-point halftime lead, and never let the margin get under double digits after the break.
Central Florida, which started the season 14-0 and sat at No. 19 earlier this month, has struggled since entering conference play, much of that coming from shooting problems. The Knights entered the night shooting 40 percent in five conference games.
Their performance against the Tigers only made those percentages worse.
The Tigers built their lead to double digits breaking a 16-all tie with a 16-4 rally in the first half. The Knights were able to chip into the advantage and pull within 32-26 when Dave Diakite got a breakout layup with 4 minutes left before the break.
But Memphis closed the half with a 15-2 spurt to build its biggest lead of the half, carrying a 47-28 margin into intermission.
Barton led the Tigers with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, including 2 of 3 outside the arc.
UCF was 10 of 30 in the half (33.3 percent), but the Knights missed all seven of their 3-pointers. Compounding UCF's problems were 10 turnovers, compared to five for Memphis. UCF would end the night with 22 miscues compared to 14 for Memphis.
Memphis was still shooting accurately to open the second half, as UCF's woes continued, the Knights missing eight of their first nine shots.
That allowed the Tigers to extend the lead to 57-33 with just under 13 minutes left.
Play got a bit sloppy at times midway through the second half with unforced errors, and the Tigers trying to make fancy plays on fast breaks.
But the Tigers' lead was enough that UCF never threatened.