Jacksonville hasn't fared all that well this season when games are decided at the free-throw line - but that is where the Dolphins hope to win it when they visit Central Florida Tuesday night. Despite being two games over .500, the Knights entered this week as the worst team in the nation from the foul line, shooting only 53.6 percent to rank 345th. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are shooting 69.7 percent from the line - No. 168 in the nation - with their top three scorers all shooting 72 percent or better on their free throws.
The Knights have relied on their inside game this season, leading the American Athletic Conference in offensive rebounds at 41 per game and outrebounding their opponents by an average of more than five per outing. That does not bode well for Jacksonville, which has been outrebounded in its last six straight games and by an average margin of 8.9 this season. Tristan Spurlock is fifth in the AAC in rebounding for Central Florida at 7.1 per game while 7-1 Kordario Fleming tops Jacksonville with 5.6 rebounds.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
ABOUT JACKSONVILLE (3-5): The Dolphins head into their final non-conference road game coming off a 10-day layoff since losing 83-63 to Florida Atlantic on Dec. 7. Jarvis Haywood leads the Jacksonville offense at 16 points per game on 54 percent shooting from the floor. Keith McDougald and Vince Martin are averaging 11.2 and 10.1 points, respectively, for Jacksonville, which has faced a challenging opening month with losses to Florida State, Florida and Wake Forest.
ABOUT CENTRAL FLORIDA (5-3): Calvin Newell leads four scorers averaging in double figures for the dangerous Knights at 17.6 points per game to go with a team-high 3.8 assists and a conference-best 2.5 steals. Oklahoma Sooner is followed on the scoring ledger by Isaiah Sykes (15.3), Spurlock (12.3) and Kasey Wilson (10.9), who is 11-of-23 from 3-point range for the Knights. Central Florida has been nearly unbeatable in December at home under fourth-year head coach Donnie Jones, going 18-1.
1. Central Florida, which trails in the series 12-11, will play the third game of a seven-game homestand.
2. Jacksonville is 3-0 with a halftime lead and 0-5 when trailing at the intermission.
3. Sykes needs six rebounds to become the eighth player in school history to reach 600 for his career.
PREDICTION: Central Florida 85, Jacksonville 78