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Memphis punches UCF’s the NIT?

UCF Memphis Basketball

Memphis’ Will Barton, right, blocks the shot UCF’s Keith Clanton, left, as teammate Wesley Witherspoon (back) helps defend on the play during first half action of an NCAA college basketball game at the FedExForum Tuesday Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Mark Weber)


UCF went into Friday’s Conference USA semifinal against Memphis likely needing to win the tournament in order to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

Instead, the Tigers not only beat the Knights (22-10, 10-6) but handed them a beating severe enough that it may have extinguished their Big Dance hopes.

Wesley Witherspoon scored 15 points off the bench and three starters reached double figures as Memphis (25-8, 13-3) beat UCF 83-52 at FedEx Forum, advancing to Saturday’s title game where they will take on 6-seed Marshall.

Isaiah Sykes was the lone UCF player in double figures, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds, and as a team the Knights shot just 33.3% from the field.

UCF took rushed shots, also making just two of nineteen attempts from beyond the arc, and they also finished with twice as many turnovers (14) as assists (seven).

There shouldn’t have been much mystery as to what Donnie Jones’ team had to do in order to compete with the Tigers as they were whipped 84-55 back on February 28th.

But the Knights reverted back to those habits, and a 31-11 Memphis edge to start the second half pushed the lead out to a staggering 38 points (82-44). In regards to UCF’s resume one would have to think that two blowout losses within two weeks remove some of the luster from their 68-67 win over the Tigers back on January 18th.

UCF can point to a win over UConn but with 16 of their wins coming against teams 101 or worse in the RPI, they may not have enough to climb into the field.