HUNTINGTON - His Central Florida teammates had figured out Saturday they'd better do something different than challenge Nigel Spikes inside, but Kasey Wilson didn't get the message.
With his Knights ahead of Marshall 51-49, the 6-foot-7 sophomore reserve tried to throw down an exclamation-point dunk, but Spikes emphatically sent the ball - and Wilson's arm - back.
A few minutes later, after Dennis Tinnon gave the Herd a 60-59 lead, Wilson tried another dunk and it slammed off the rim and out of bounds, courtesy of Spikes. That was Spikes' eighth of his career-high nine blocks that afternoon, and helped turn the tide in Marshall's 75-71 victory at Cam Henderson Center.
On the Herd's next possession, Elijah Pittman hit a 3-pointer to give the Herd the lead for good at 63-60. At that point, the lead had changed 16 times and there were 11 ties.
But in the final four minutes, there was no more of either, and Spikes played a large role in that.
With the score 63-61, Spikes deflected an Isaiah Sykes shot that could have tied it. Sykes got the ball back, but committed a traveling violation trying to figure out how to avoid another block.
At the other end, Spikes drove for a basket against UCF star Keith Clanton, giving the Herd a 65-61 lead - its first two-score advantage since 22-17.
With 1:16 left, Spikes had the team's last field goal, giving Marshall a 68-64 lead and turning the game over to his teammates at the line. Seven makes in 12 tries was enough to preserve the victory.
Actually, Spikes may have made a few if given the chance. A 46.5 percent shooter entering the game, he made five of his six tries, even hitting four in a row between his send-backs of Wilson.
Spikes finished with 11 points, four rebounds and those nine blocks. He victimized five different Knights - Sykes three times, Wilson twice, Clanton twice and Tristan Spurlock and Calvin Newell once each.
Yous Mbao came off the bench early in the first half to block three in four minutes. The Knights suffered 14 rejections, keeping their field-goal percentage down to 41.3 percent.
With that, the Herd (10-12, 3-4) snapped its three-game losing streak and ended the four-game winning streak by UCF (15-6, 5-2).
"We're tired of losing," Spikes said. "It's wearing down on us, and we're not a losing team like that. That's not our mentality, so we really stepped it up today. These guys really played big today, everybody played big - Rob [Goff], big Yous, DeVince, everybody."
The "bigs" played especially big, coach Tom Herrion thought. Spikes had his first double-figure scoring game since Dec. 1 against North Carolina-Wilmington.
"We got great production out of the 'five' today, maybe the best production I've gotten since I've been here, collectively." Herrion said. "I know everybody wants to talk about Nigel, and deservedly so, but Goff was phenomenal in the first half, and Yous was really good in the stretch he came in."