HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The first thing to know about this visiting Central Florida team is this: It has the reigning Conference USA player of the week.
And it's not Keith Clanton.
It is Isaiah Sykes, a 6-foot-5 junior guard who was given a marquee role in the Knights' offense this season. He has risen to the task, averaging 15.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a league-leading 1.9 steals.
He is performing even better in conference play, helping the Knights jump to a 5-1 start. He enters today's game against Marshall with four straight 20-point performances and is the only C-USA player in the top 10 in league play in points (17.0), rebounds (8.0) and assists (3.3).
Not coincidentally, the Knights have won all four games.
"He has to be considered for player of the year, in my opinion, along with Clanton," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "His versatility, he's got the ball in his hands much more than ever. He plays one, two, three, he's shooting the ball well if not better. He makes plays for others, rebounds the ball, which he's always done."
Sykes will lead the Knights into Cam Henderson Center for the matinee contest, which tips off at 2 p.m. The game will air live on WCHS, Channel 8 in Charleston-Huntington.
This will be the third and almost certainly last return of former Herd coach and current Knights coach Donnie Jones, as UCF heads to the Big East after this season. The teams will have one more game, Feb. 20 in Orlando, Fla., and they cannot meet in the Conference USA tournament because UCF is serving a one-year postseason ban for NCAA infractions.
That adds several intangible factors as the Herd (9-12, 2-4) tries to send Jones home a loser for the third time. The Henderson Center crowd, likely to be reduced by the frustration of a tough season, should be nonetheless revved up and the Knights (15-5 overall) may be playing in the "us vs. the world" mode.