O'Donnell, Golden Knights Too Much for UTEP


March 4, 2006

Box Score

ORLANDO - Sophomore guard Mike O'Donnell scored a career-high 23 points to help the UCF men's basketball team to a 66-55 Conference USA victory over visiting UTEP on Saturday evening at Torchy Clark Court at UCF Arena. O'Donnell tied a school record, connecting on all six of his three-point field goal attempts for the Golden Knights (13-14, 7-7 C-USA).

The game was the regular-season finale for both teams. The Miners fall to 19-8 and 11-3 with the loss.

After leading 32-31 at halftime, UCF opened the second stanza on a 21-7 run. O'Donnell started the spurt 40 seconds into the half, hitting a trey and getting fouled for the four-point play. Junior forward Josh Peppers nailed a pair of triples during the run and capped the spurt with a trey at the 11:13 mark that gave the hosts a 53-38 edge.

"UTEP is an outstanding team. I thought that our defense was outstanding throughout the game," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "Mike (O'Donnell) got us going making shots and hopefully that is a great breakout game for him. It was great for him to step out there and make just about everything."

Following UCF's run to open the second half, the Miners would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way. The Golden Knights made all five of their second half free-throw attempts and were 15-of-17 (88.2 percent) for the contest at the charity stripe.

The first half featured seven ties as neither team could pull away. UTEP's Brent Murphy joined O'Donnell by hitting three treys in the opening half.

Senior guard Justin Rose, playing at home for the final time, totaled 14 points for UCF. Peppers scored 11 points and senior forward Marcus Johnson grabbed 10 boards in a career-high 35 minutes. O'Donnell played 37 minutes and shot 7-of-9 overall.

The Golden Knights shot 56.3 percent in the second half and 48.8 percent for the game. The squad was 9-of-18 (52.9 percent) from deep.

UCF and the Miners were meeting for the first time since 1978.

Jason Williams led UTEP with 26 points. He scored 22 of the team's 24 second-half points and was 8-of-8 at the free-throw line after intermission. Murphy finished with 10 points - all in the first half.

The Miners shot 36.5 percent overall and were just 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range. UCF held a 31-26 advantage on the glass.

The Golden Knights will return to action on Wednesday at the first round of the 2006 Conference USA Men's Basketball Championship presented by Aeropostale. Pairings and times for the tournament will be announced late Saturday evening.