ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Dave Noel scored eight of his 10 points in the second half, including two with 5.6 seconds remaining, to help UCF preserve a 72-67 Conference USA victory over Rice on Saturday night.
The Knights (14-4, 3-1) almost blew a 12-point second half lead, but went on to win its 12 straight game at home.Rice led throughout most of the first half. Jermaine Taylor's slam dunk with 2:19 remaining brought the near-capacity crowd to its feet and gave UCF a 33-31 lead. The Knights took a 35-32 advantage into the locker room at halftime.The Owls shot 31 percent from the floor in the first half, but out-rebounded the Knights, 31-22, including 13 on the offensive end.In the second half, Rice pulled within 68-67 on a pair of free throws by Morris Almond with 53 seconds left. Lavell Payne had a slam dunk with 22 seconds remaining to put the Knights back up by three.Almond attempted to tie the game but missed two 3-pointers before UCF's Dave Noel grabbed the rebound. Noels two free throws sealed the victory.Josh Peppers led UCF with 14 points. Mike O'Donnell added 11 points. Noel finished with eight assists.Almond finished with 20 points, but was only 3-for-15 from the floor. Greg Killings had 15 points for Rice (9-8, 3-1), which shot only 34 percent from the floor.