Basketball Returns Home for UCF Holiday Classic

Dec. 27, 2005

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

ORLANDO - The UCF men's basketball team will be back in action at home on Thursday, hosting North Florida to open the UCF Holiday Classic. Tip-off at Torchy Clark Court at UCF Arena is slated for 8 p.m.

Birmingham-Southern and Western Illinois will begin the event with a 6 p.m. matchup.

UCF (5-4) has dropped two contests in a row, but has won 10-consecutive home games. North Florida enters the tournament with a 3-4 mark on the year.

On Friday the tournament consolation game is scheduled for 6 p.m., followed by the championship.

Tickets for the event are still available. Call (407) UCF-GOLD for more information or to purchase tickets.

All UCF games at the tournament 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.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS RETURN HOME FOR UCF HOLIDAY CLASSIC UCF returns to the court for the first time since Dec. 21, hosting the UCF Holiday Classic. From Dec. 19-21, the Golden Knights competed at the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz., dropping a pair of contests at the event. Despite 24 points from Justin Rose, UCF closed the tournament with a 68-63 loss to Sam Houston State in the consolation game.

The Golden Knights committed 25 turnovers versus the Bearkats, including 15 in the first half. In its last five games, UCF has averaged 19.8 turnovers. In two games at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, UCF made just 18 trips to the free-throw line, shooting just 50 percent at the charity stripe. The Golden Knights opponents - Western Kentucky and Sam Houston State - made a combined 50 trips to the foul line. Josh Peppers (13.2 points per game) and Justin Rose (11.8) lead a balanced UCF scoring effort. The team is averaging 64.9 points per game and is connecting on seven three-pointers a contest.

ABOUT THE OSPREYS North Florida began the year 2-0, but has now lost four of its last five games. The squad has been idle since Dec. 17, despite leading by eight at halftime, it lost 71-64 at Binghamton. The Ospreys have lost seven in a row on the road and are 0-4 away from home this season.

In 39 minutes versus Binghamton, Alain Laroche recorded 23 points and 10 rebounds. On the year, he is averaging a team-high 18.4 points and 10 rebounds. Rashad Williams is averaging 13.3 points and 5.7 boards per game.

SERIES HISTORY UCF and North Florida will be meeting for the first time on the hardwood. The Ospreys are in their first season at the Division I level and are member of the Atlantic Sun, a league which UCF left following the 2004-05 season. This year, UCF has already faced a pair of A-Sun squads, defeating Stetson at home and falling at Florida Atlantic.

REACHING A MILESTONE UCF's 63-47 victory over Norfolk State on Dec. 16 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.

STRONG PLAY OUT WEST Despite losing a pair of games at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, UCF received a strong performance from Josh Peppers. The junior forward earned a spot on the all-tournament team after averaging 16 points and four rebounds at the event. Peppers opened the tournament by hitting four triples on his way to 18 points versus Western Kentucky. In the consolation game versus Sam Houston State, he scored 14 points and also added four assists. He is UCF's leading scorer on the year, averaging 13.2 points per contest.

MR. VERSATILITY Coming off of his best offensive performance as a Golden Knight, Justin Rose is doing it all for UCF this season. In his second campaign at UCF, he is starting for the first time and is showing off all facets of his game. The shooting guard is first on the team in rebounds (5.8) and (3.8) assists per game. He is second on the squad with an 11.8 points per contest average.

Against Sam Houston State on Dec. 21 at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, Rose scored a career-best 24 points in 36 minutes of action. He shot 9-of-15 from the field and also added 10 boards for his second double-double of the season.

HOME COOKING Dating back to the start of the 2001-02 season, the Golden Knights are 48-10 in games played at UCF Arena. In 2004-05, the team went 12-3 at home, the second-best home win total in program history (14 in 1993-94). UCF has won 10-straight contests at home.

WELCOME FRESHMAN Following a slugglish first-half performance from his Golden Knights, Kirk Speraw inserted Kenrick Zondervan into the lineup at halftime against Sam Houston State on Dec. 21. The freshman forward from Holland responded, scoring four quick points to help UCF get back into the game. Zondervan scored his first collegiate basket on a tip-in and also scored on a layup. He has seen action in eight games this year and is averaging 2.9 minutes per contest.

40 MINUTES UCF has 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per contest. Justin Rose is averaging a team-high 30.9 minutes per contest and Kenrick Zondervan (2.9 mpg) and walk-on Drew Speraw (1.3) are the only Golden Knights who are not averaging double-figures in minutes.

NOEL COOKS UP A DISH In only 12 minutes versus Sam Houston State on Dec. 21, Dave Noel totaled a career-high six assists. The sophomore guard is only averaging 14 minutes per contest this year, but is third on the squad in assists per game (2.9).

BACK HOME When UCF participated in the Fiesta Bowl Classic from Dec. 19-21 in Tucson, Ariz., it marked the Golden Knights first games outside the state of Florida in 2005-06. UCF opened the season with seven-consecutive contests in the Sunshine State.

UCF-NORTH FLORIDA CONNECTIONS North Florida head coach Matt Kilcullen served as the head coach at Jacksonville from 1991-94. During that span, he went 2-0 versus the Golden Knights, with both victories coming during the 1991-92 season when both teams were members of the Sun Belt Conference. UNF senior forward Alain Laroche attended UCF from 2001-03, but did not play basketball at the school.

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 A year ago on Dec. 29, 2004, UCF defeated Fordham, 65-61, to open the UCF Holiday Classic. Gary Johnson led the Golden Knights with 14 points and Justin Rose posted eight rebounds in the victory.

UP NEXT On Friday, UCF will face either Birmingham-Southern or Western Illinois in the final day of the UCF Holiday Classic... 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.