TAMPA, Fla. - Isaiah Sykes had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead Central Florida past South Florida 74-56 on Saturday night in each team's season opener.
Keith Clanton, the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year, added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Central Florida, which has won 10 consecutive season openers.
"We all executed," Sykes said. "We did the little things on offense, like set screens and just stick to the game plan."
South Florida got 22 points from Jawanza Poland.
"We've always been pretty good at taking away the other team's top players, and their top players just dominated," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "We just could not get a handle on Sykes. Couldn't get a handle on Clanton. Both players were extremely effective."
The Bulls were coming off a strong season in which South Florida won 22 games and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament. It was the school's first appearance in the NCAA tourney since 1992.
UCF outrebounded the Bulls 45-26.
"We played a big lineup, and those guys played extremely well together," Central Florida coach Donnie Jones said. "We beat a very good basketball team. It was our night tonight."
Sykes had 17 points and nine rebounds as UCF grabbed a 40-24 halftime lead. His three-point play put the Knights ahead 38-20 with two minutes left in the half.
Another three-point play by Sykes extended the Knights' advantage to 51-31 six minutes into the second half.
South Florida got within 55-43 when Victor Rudd hit a 3 midway through the second.
"The second half, we started out good and got a couple little runs," Poland said. "But we just had a bad night shooting, and we didn't get too many rebounds."
The Bulls shot 36.4 percent (20 for 55) from the field. The Knights made 50 percent (26 of 52) of their shots.
Tristan Spurlock scored 14 points and Kasey Wilson chipped in 13 for UCF.
"I feel like everybody was just playing with a lot of energy, just knowing that we hadn't played anybody else," Clanton said. "We haven't had an exhibition game, so everybody was just so happy and ready to play another team and get different competition."
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