UCF Looks Sharp in 102-54 Exhibition Win Over St. Leo


Nov. 9, 2006

Box Score

Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Even though it may have just been an exhibition game, one thing was made clear Thursday night against St. Leo: the UCF men's basketball team has a potent offense. By going 36-for-63 (57.1 percent) as a team and having all 12 players that dressed get on the scoreboard, the Golden Knights were able to cruise past the Lions, 102-54, at the UCF Arena in a tune-up before the regular season opener Nov. 15.

"I thought it was a good effort throughout the ballgame," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "Everyone who was in the game maintained their intensity and that was something we were looking for."

Sophomore Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) was unstoppable during his 21 minutes on the floor. He made his first five shots, all threes, en route to a game-high 25 points. Junior transfer Chip Cartwright (Houston, Texas) led UCF from the charity stripe by converting all six attempts, as the Golden Knights went 19-for-23 (82.6 percent) at the line. He concluded the game with 11 points.

Besides Taylor, six other Golden Knights sank a three-pointer for UCF en route to an 11-for-22 (50 percent) showing as a team. Overall, the team shot 57.6 percent in the first half and 56.7 percent in the second half.

For St. Leo, George Eshesimua was the high scorer, going 4-for-7 with two free throws for 10 points.

Defensively, 10 different Golden Knights recorded at least one steal, and St. Leo was forced into committing a total of 29 turnovers. Meanwhile, UCF dominated the boards, posting a 39-20 advantage which included a 14-4 edge on the offensive glass.

From the opening tip, the UCF defense looked as if it were already February. By forcing six turnovers in St. Leo's first 11 possessions, the Golden Knights brought some momentum down to the other end of the court. Thanks to two early treys from Taylor, UCF was off and running.

Already with a comfortable 17-point cushion with just under 11 minutes to play, junior Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) turned another St. Leo mistake into a high-rising dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and the lead to 30-11. Taylor then continued his dominance beyond the arc, draining his fourth-straight 3-pointer to push it to 33-11. In all, UCF sank six of its first seven shots from three-point land, and built a 24-point lead (41-17) following junior Mike O'Donnell's (Largo, Fla./Largo) three with 5:37 to play.

Taylor kept his pace up at the 2:29 mark, staying perfect from the field and from long range with his fifth three of the night. Although he eventually missed a 3-point attempt with under a minute to play, he finished with 19 first-half points to lead UCF into the break holding a 58-22 advantage. O'Donnell also was looking sharp, notching eight assists while committing just one turnover. Although he sat out most of the second half, he still ended his night with a game-high nine assists.

UCF picked up right where it left off when the second half rolled around, and the offense continued to be sparked by Taylor. Highlighted by a monster two-handed slam with 17:15 on the clock, the Golden Knights stretched the lead to 64-26. They also crashed the boards routinely in the half. After a couple missed attempts from inside the lane with less than 14 minutes to play, junior Stanley Billings (Orlando, Fla./Oak Ridge) secured the loose ball and finally laid it in to make it 76-32.

Freshmen Taylor Young (Orlando, Fla./The First Academy) and Andre Thornton (Memphis, Tenn.), who both did not play in the first half, started to get into the act as well. As Young drilled a three and Thornton connected for a long-distance two on back-to-back possessions, it was evident that the Golden Knights could get some perimeter shooting from all across its roster.

One final outburst at the end guided the Golden Knights over the century mark, with junior Jacob Loucks (Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater) making a free-throw attempt and a transition lay-up for the final 102-54 margin.

UCF begins the regular season with a six-game home stand starting Wednesday, Nov. 15, against Rollins. For season tickets, contact the UCF Ticket Office at 407-UCF-1000. And for the latest news and information on the Golden Knights, tickets or apparel log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF athletics.