Golden Knights Head West for Fiesta Bowl Classic

Dec. 18, 2005

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TUCSON, Ariz. - Playing outside of the Sunshine State for the first time this season, the UCF men's basketball squad begins play at the Fiesta Bowl Classic on Monday, facing Western Kentucky at 6 p.m. Eastern at the McKale Center. The Golden Knights enter the tournament with a 5-2 mark, while Western Kentucky is 5-3.

Sam Houston State (6-2) and host Arizona (5-3) are also participating in the event. The consolation and championship games are slated for Wednesday.

Monday's game will be aired live on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, WQTM - 740 THE TEAM. Marc Daniels will have the call from courtside. Audio of the contest is also available on www.UCFathletics.com as part of the "Golden Knights All-Access" package.

UCF HEADS WEST FOR THE FIESTA BOWL CLASSIC Following a 63-47 victory at home on Friday over Norfolk State, UCF returns to action at the Fiesta Bowl Classic. After making just 7-of-22 field-goal attempts before intermission, the Golden Knights recovered in the second half, shooting 59.1 percent to pull away with the win. UCF's defense forced 21 Spartan turnovers and limited the visitors to just 38.8 percent shooting for the game, including an 0-of-8 effort from behind-the-arc.

Mike O'Donnell paced UCF with 15 points and Josh Peppers and Justin Rose each recorded 12 points. Off of the bench, Marcus Johnson totaled 11 points and five rebounds.

This season, Peppers is the team's top scorer at 12.4 points per game. Rose is averaging 11 points and a team-best 5.1 rebounds. UCF is averaging 64.7 points per game and has limited its last two opponents to below 60 points. The Golden Knights have been hampered by a 15.8 turnover per game average.

ABOUT THE HILLTOPPERS Western Kentucky has lost two-consecutive contests, most recently a 78-76 game at Bradley on Wednesday. The Hilltoppers shot 50.9 percent overall from the field, but committed 25 turnovers. Courtney Lee totaled 24 points in the losing effort and Anthony Winchester and Daniel Emerson both recorded 10 points. Winchester added seven rebounds and five assists.

Winchester, a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference First Team selection, is averaging a team-high 20.8 points per game to go with 5.6 rebounds. Lee is filling up the stat sheet, averaging 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.5 steals per contest. Elgrace Wilborn is registering 3.1 blocks per game to go with eight points and seven boards.

The squad has already beaten one Conference USA opponent this season, easing past host UAB, 92-76, on Nov. 29. The Hilltoppers hit 15 three-pointers in the win and shot 58.5 percent overall. Lee had 31 points and Winchester drained four triples on his way to 25 points.

SERIES HISTORY Western Kentucky is 2-0 all-time versus the Golden Knights. The squads met twice during the 1991-92 season as members of the Sun Belt Conference. On Feb. 10, 1992, the Hilltoppers won in overtime, 81-78, in Orlando. The squad crushed UCF at home on Feb. 29, 1992, claiming an 83-47 contest. That campaign marked UCF's only season in the Sun Belt. The program moved to the Atlantic Sun before the 1992-93 season and began conference play a year later. All-time, UCF is 22-40 versus current Sun Belt teams.

Western Kentucky is one of two squads from the Bluegrass State that UCF will face this year. The Golden Knights play Kentucky on Jan. 3 in Lexington.

REACHING A MILESTONE UCF's 63-47 victory over Norfolk State on Friday gave head coach Kirk Speraw his 200th-career win. Speraw joins Torchy Clark as the only two coaches in UCF history to win at least 200 contests. In his 13th season, all of Speraw's Division I wins have come with the Golden Knights. In the late 1980s, he spent three seasons as head coach at Pensacola Junior College, winning 82 games. At UCF, Speraw has led UCF to four trips to the NCAA Tournament - its only appearances in the postseason at the Division I level.

LEAVING HOME At the Fiesta Bowl Classic, UCF will be playing outside of the state of Florida for the first time in 2005-06. The squad has had five home contests and two in-state road games - at Florida (Gainesville) and at Florida Atlantic (Boca Raton). The Golden Knights will be playing in the state of Arizona for the first time.

NO MORE SUNSHINE When UCF faced Norfolk State on Friday, it marked the team's first game this year against an out-of-state opponent. UCF began the 2005-06 campaign with six-consecutive games versus in-state foes, posting a 4-2 mark. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, UCF is 25-11 against Sunshine State opponents.

THE 100TH GAME When Troy Lindbeck entered the game against Norfolk State on Dec. 16, the contest marked the 100th game of his collegiate career. The senior guard needs to appear in nine more games to claim the 10th spot on UCF's career games register.

UCF-WESTERN KENTUCKY CONNECTIONS Western Kentucky head coach Darrin Horn was on the Hilltopper roster during the 1991-92 season and appeared in two games versus UCF. Horn scored 11 points and had three assists on Feb. 10, 1992 in Western Kentucky's 81-78 overtime win in Orlando. At home on Feb. 29, he had four points and two assists as the Hilltoppers posted an 83-47 victory.

BLOCK PARTY A year ago in his first season at UCF, Anthony Williams totaled 53 blocks which ranked fourth on the program's single-season register. Williams is seventh all-time at UCF with 63 swats.

TOUGH "D" UCF has held its last 16 opponents to 80 points or below. The last team to score more than 80 points versus the Golden Knights was Jacksonville on Feb. 12, 2005. The Dolphins claimed an 83-82 victory in overtime at home.

CINGULAR WIRELESS KNIGHTS ROUNDTABLE The "Cingular Wireless Knights Roundtable" radio show featuring Kirk Speraw will make its 2005-06 basketball season debut on Jan. 9. The program will air live from the Applebee's on University Boulevard near the UCF campus. Hosted by Marc Daniels, the show airs on 740 THE TEAM - AM (WQTM), the flagship station of the UCF ISP Sports Network. Fans can also listen via the Internet at www.UCFathletics.com. The program will run each Monday through March 13. Each hour-long show will begin at 6 p.m.

THIS DATE IN UCF HISTORY On Dec. 19, 1983, UCF defeated visiting Valdosta State, 68-50. The Golden Knights were paced by senior Larry Gowins, who had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The victory gave UCF its first back-to-back wins under first-year head coach Chuck Machock.

UP NEXT UCF will face Arizona or Sam Houston State on Wednesday at the Fiesta Bowl Classic. The consolation game will be played at 6 p.m. Eastern with the tournament final set for 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Arizona's game will be aired live on Fox SportsNet Arizona... The Golden Knights have never played Arizona or Sam Houston State... Kirk Speraw played at Iowa under current head coach Lute Olson. Olson gave Speraw his first coaching job as Speraw served on his staff at Iowa during the 1979-80 campaign. That season, the Hawkeyes advanced to the Final Four.