UCF Looks to Close Fiesta Bowl Classic with a Win

Dec. 20, 2005

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TUCSON, Ariz. - The UCF men's basketball team will look to close the Fiesta Bowl Classic with a victory on Wednesday when the team faces Sam Houston State in the tournament's consolation game. Tip-off at the McKale Center is slated for 6 p.m. Eastern.

The Golden Knights enter the game with a 5-3 mark, while Sam Houston State is 6-3.

UCF-Sam Houston State 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 LOOKING TO CLOSE FIESTA BOWL CLASSIC WITH A VICTORY The Golden Knights return to action at the Fiesta Bowl Classic with a consolation game matchup against Sam Houston State. UCF opened the tournament on Monday, falling to Western Kentucky (73-68).

UCF led 39-28 at the break versus the Hilltoppers, but was outscored 45-29 in the second half. Josh Peppers paced the team with 18 points and Mike O'Donnell had 13 points and nine assists.

Peppers is UCF's leading scorer, averaging 13.1 points per game. In his last three games, the junior forward is averaging 18 points an outing. Justin Rose, the team's leading rebounder (5.3 rpg), is the only other Golden Knight averaging double-digits in scoring (10.3 ppg).

UCF has not been careful with the ball as of late. The squad had 19 turnovers versus Western Kentucky and is averaging 16.25 per game.

ABOUT THE BEARKATS Sam Houston State faced tournament host Arizona on Monday and the Wildcats eased to an 87-51 victory. Arizona led by 23 points at halftime. Sam Houston State shot 35.6 percent overall for the contest, compared to 52.3 percent for Arizona. The Bearkats committed 29 turnovers. They are averaging 18.3 turnovers per game in 2005-06. Ryan Bright scored eight points and grabbed a game-high nine boards in the losing effort.

Bright's 13.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game lead the team. Jejuan Plair is averaging 10.6 points and 6.2 per game. The Bearkats have lost two in a row after starting the season 6-1. The start included a win over Missouri in the Preseason NIT and a victory over Conference USA program Southern Miss.

THE BENCH MOB UCF's reserves are averaging 20.3 points per game this season. Versus Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 29, the team's reserves scored 32 points, compared to 29 for the starting five. In the win over Norfolk State on Dec. 16, the bench accounted for 20 points. Marcus Johnson came off of the bench to score 11 points and grab five rebounds versus the Spartans.

40 MINUTES UCF has 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per contest. Justin Rose is averaging a team-high 29.5 minutes per contest and Kenrick Zondervan (2.1 mpg) and walk-on Drew Speraw (1.3) are the only Golden Knights who are not averaging double-figures in minutes.

UCF-SAM HOUSTON STATE CONNECTIONS Sam Houston State Bob Marlin has numerous connections to the Golden Knight program. Marlin served as the head coach at Pensacola Junior College from 1990-95, where he followed Kirk Speraw. Speraw left PJC to work as an assistant coach at Florida. A 1981 graduate of Mississippi State, Marlin served as a student manager for the Bulldogs when UCF associate head coach Tom Schuberth was on the MSU roster.

MAJOR MINUTES Mike O'Donnell has logged some major minutes as of late. In UCF's last four games, the senior point guard is averaging 33.8 minutes per contest. He has played 37 minutes in two-consecutive games.

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. 21, 1991, UCF defeated Georgia State, 95-94, in overtime in Orlando. UCF was led by Sinua Phillips, who totaled 24 points. Ken Leeks posted 11 rebounds in the win over the Panthers.

UP NEXT The Golden Knights return home to host the UCF Holiday Classic on Dec. 29-30. UCF will face North Florida on Dec. 29 at 8 p.m. The squad will then play Birmingham-Southern or Western Illinois on Dec. 30... UCF and North Florida will be meeting for the first time. The Ospreys are in their first season at the Division I level and are competing in the Atlantic Sun... The Golden Knights are 1-1 versus Western Illinois, but have never faced Birmingham-Southern. Birmingham-Southern is the alma mater of UCF assistant coach Dwight Evans. A member of the school's athletics hall of fame, he served as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 1994-99.