PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Marcus Jordan was headed to the foul line for two big shots Friday when a teammate passed along an encouraging message.
“He told me this shot is in my blood,” Jordan said.
Yup, like father, like son.
Jordan, the son of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, made two big free throws to give Central Florida the lead with 3:11 left and the Knights upset No. 4 Connecticut 68-63 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, snapping the Huskies’ 16-game winning streak.
Jordan and Keith Clanton each scored 20 points for the Knights (4-1), who trailed by 17 early in the second half. Jordan also had seven rebounds and seven assists.
Jeremy Lamb had 15 points for the defending national champion Huskies (5-1), who lost for the first time since March 5 against Notre Dame. Alex Oriakhi added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“I can’t be more disappointed in how we played,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. “We just stopped playing. We couldn’t even get the ball inbounded near the end. Nobody stepped up and it was a complete disaster for us.”
Calhoun was particularly disappointed in the last four minutes.
“That wasn’t a run, it was an avalanche,” he said.
Connecticut put together a 10-0 run to take a 50-33 lead with 16 minutes left. Lamb sparked the run with a 3-pointer and also hit two free throws during the surge.
Central Florida then scored 17 of the next 19 points to pull within two. Clanton kicked off the rally with a 3-pointer and Jordan finished the spurt with a 3.
Lamb made another 3 to stretch the Huskies’ lead to five, but they couldn’t hold off the pesky Knights. Jordan converted a layup, then made the two free throws to give Central Florida a 58-57 advantage. Jordan added four more foul shots down the stretch to preserve the big win.
Jordan was whistled for a technical with 16 minutes left in the game, fueling his big final surge.
“I still don’t know why I got the technical,” he said. “But I do know I wanted to come out and be more aggressive.”
Isaiah Sykes added 10 points, including consecutive layups that stretched Central Florida’s lead to 62-57 late in the game. The Knights will face Harvard in the championship game on Saturday.
Andre Drummond finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots for the Huskies, who led 38-29 at halftime.
“I feel like I let the team down,” Lamb said. “I turned the ball over in key moments. We’ve lost games before but this hurts. We just need to come out with energy tomorrow and be ready to play.”
Connecticut will play No. 22 Florida State in the consolation game on Saturday.
Starting point guard Shabazz Napier had seven of the Huskies’ 13 turnovers, compared to eight for the Knights. Lamb had three turnovers.
Napier went 1 for 7 from the field and finished with four points and five assists.