ORLANDO, Fla. -- Calvin Newell and Isaiah Sykes scored 24 points apiece as Central Florida capitalized on its advantage at the free-throw line to beat Rice 78-67 Wednesday night in Conference USA action.
Tied at 32 at intermission, the Knights (13-5, 3-1) made 21 of 26 free throws in the second half, compared to 8 of 14 for the Owls.
UCF came out of the break with a 16-7 run, capped by Tristan Spurlock's 3-pointer. After extending the lead to 12 points, the Knights saw Rice climb back to 56-54 with 7:52 left.
The Owls (4-14, 0-4) were still within three points with 5:15 remaining when UCF hit six straight free throws. After Tamir Jackson's three-point play closed the gap to 66-60, Sykes made a layup and Newell a 3-pointer.
Spurlock added 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for UCF, which has won four its last five.
Jackson's 15 points led Rice.
Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, considered a lock to leave the program before struggling in the second half last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return for his junior season.
Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku, who recently underwent a medical procedure to correct a heart rhythm issue detected during the combine, will keep his name in the NBA draft pool.
Andrew White III will return to the Nebraska men's basketball team next season after removing his name from the NBA draft.
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