Undefeated Golden Knights to Face Host Minnesota

Dec. 11, 2006

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Off to its best start since the 1979-80 season, the UCF men's basketball team will play its first road game of the year on Tuesday, Dec. 12 against Minnesota in Minneapolis. Tip-off at historic Williams Arena is set for 8 p.m. Eastern.

The Golden Knights (6-0) are one of just nine undefeated teams in the country. UCF has won its last four games by an average of 34.5 points.

A reserve has led UCF in scoring in five of its six contests this year. Sophomore guard Jermaine Taylor from Tavares has come off of the bench each game and is the team's top scorer (17.5). UCF is coming off of an 87-65 victory over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 9.

Minnesota is 4-7 this season. Tuesday's game will mark the first time this season that UCF has faced an out-of-state team.

UCF-Minnesota will be aired live on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 THE TEAM AM in Orlando, with Marc Daniels on the call. Live audio will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.

Series History: UCF and Minnesota will be meeting for the first time. UCF is 0-5 all-time against Big 10 Conference opponents. The last Big 10 squad that the program faced was Michigan State in 1998. UCF will be playing in the Gopher State for the first time.

About Minnesota: Dan Monson resigned as Minnesota's head coach following a 90-68 loss to visiting Clemson on Nov. 29. Jim Molinari is 2-2 as the team's interim head coach. On Dec. 9, the host Golden Gophers fell 67-66 to Arkansas-Little Rock. The Trojans held a 43-16 rebounding advantage. In the loss, Lawrence Mckenzie had 24 points and Spencer Tollackson scored 21 points. McKenzie leads the team, averaging 17.4 points per game.

UCF Last Time Out: Jermaine Taylor scored 18 points off of the bench to lift UCF to an 87-65 victory over visiting Florida Atlantic on Dec. 9. The Owls led by one point with five minutes to play in the first half, but the hosts closed the period with a 14-3 run. UCF shot 54.9 percent for the game while limiting the Owls to just 30.9 percent shooting from the field. Josh Peppers and Stanley Billings each had 12 points in the victory. The teams combined for 58 personal fouls and three technical fouls and UCF made 40 trips to the free-throw line, the ninth-highest single-game total in school history.

UCF Among Elite Company Through games of Dec. 10, UCF is one of just nine undefeated teams in the country, joining Oklahoma State (11-0), Clemson (10-0), Pittsburgh (10-0), Connecticut (8-0), UCLA (8-0), Oregon (7-0), Southern Miss (7-0) and Wichita State (7-0).

A New Year for the Golden Knights: What a difference a year makes for UCF's offense. Through six games in 2005-06, the Golden Knights were averaging 65 points and shooting 46 percent overall and 33.6 percent from deep. This year, the squad is averaging 84 points and shooting 52.3 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range. Last season, UCF eclipsed the 80-point mark only once. This year, the team has already scored more than 80 points five times. The squad boasts a +25.7 margin of victory in 2006-07.

Super Sophomore: Jermaine Taylor has been UCF's go-to-guy on offense this season, averaging a team-high 17.5 points. He has led the squad in scoring in four of its six games and has been the team's first player off the bench each contest. A year ago as a freshman, the guard scored in double-figures just four times. In 2006-07, he has totaled double-digits in points in all six of the Golden Knights' games. Last year, Taylor came off of the bench for all 29 games and averaged 4.5 points in 12.2 minutes. He is shooting 54.8 percent from deep and has connected on 17 treys. In 2005-06, he totaled just 17 3-pointers.

Peppers Joins the Club: Senior forward Josh Peppers scored 12 points in the win over Jacksonville to become just the 13th 1,000-point scorer in program history. The Memphis, Tenn. native has scored 1,007 points at UCF. He became the first Golden Knight to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier since Paul Reed achieved the feat during the 2001-02 season.

Late Start on the Road: The contest at Minnesota will serve as UCF's first road game of the 2006-07 season. The squad began the season with six-straight home tilts. The Dec. 12 date is the latest that the Golden Knights have made their season road debut since the 1987-88 campaign. That season, UCF played four home games before facing UMBC on the road on Dec. 12. A year ago, UCF made its road debut on Dec. 3, facing eventual national champion Florida.

Solid Start to the Season: UCF is 6-0 for the first time since moving to the Division I level prior to the 1984-85 season. The Golden Knights have begun a campaign 6-0 only once in its 37-year history and that came in 1979-80. That season, Torchy Clark's squad opened the year with 15-straight victories. Playing at the Division II level, the Golden Knights went 25-4 in 1979-80.

Leaving Orlando: The Golden Knights began the year with six-consecutive contests at home, but will now play eight of their next 10 games away from Orlando. After facing host Minnesota, UCF will play three games at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. In late December, the team will play a pair of games at home as part of the UCF Holiday Classic. The Golden Knights begin the new year with four-straight on the road, including Conference USA games at UAB and Marshall.

Rookie Sensation: Although he is averaging just 18 minutes of action, Tony Davis leads the Golden Knights in rebounds at 6.7 per game. He grabbed seven boards in the win over Florida Atlantic and also scored nine points. Eleven of his 29 boards have been on the offensive end. Davis was the Florida Class 6A Player of the Year at Riverview High School in Sarasota last year.

Blocks Adding Up for Billings: Stanley Billings has totaled seven blocks in UCF's last three games. He had a pair of blocks in the win over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 9 and paces the team with 11 swats on the year.

Heading for 300: Head coach Kirk Speraw needs just three victories to reach the 300-career win mark. He has 297 career victories. Speraw is in his 14th year at UCF and has won 213 games at the school. In his other stint as a head coach, Speraw recorded 82 wins from 1987-90 at Pensacola Junior College.

Defensive Intensity: Kirk Speraw's teams are annually strong on the defensive end and this year is no different. UCF is limiting its opponents to just 35.4 percent shooting from the floor. Two of the Golden Knights' opponents in 2006-07 have failed to score more than 50 points. UCF has forced 114 turnovers in six games and has recorded 55 steals and 24 blocks. Through six contests in 2005-06, UCF had forced just 68 turnovers and posted only 32 steals.

Platoon at Point Guard: Thanks to point guards Mike O'Donnell and Chip Cartwright, UCF is leading Conference USA, averaging 18.8 assists. Sharing minutes at the point, both players are averaging 4.2 assists per contest. O'Donnell is seeing 23.3 minutes of action and is averaging 7.2 points in the starting role. A junior college transfer, Cartwright is averaging 6.2 points in 19 minutes.

Import Player: In his first season playing in the United States, Kenrick Zondervan scored just five points in 18 games last season. In 2006-07, the sophomore from Holland is starting at center and showing great improvement. Zondervan is averaging seven points in 18.3 minutes of action. In the victory over Florida Atlantic, he scored eight points and in just 15 minutes of action.

Full House: In its six home contests this season, UCF is averaging 2,183 fans. At the same point last year, the squad was averaging 1,647 fans. Two of the top-10 crowds in UCF Arena history have already been recorded in 2006-07. In the season opener versus cross-town foe Rollins, 2,886 spectators were on hand, the ninth-best mark in program history. On Dec. 9 against Florida Atlantic, the 10th-largest crowd (2,879) watched the Golden Knights top the Owls.

Yotio Signs NLI with UCF: On Dec. 4, Kirk Speraw announced that Jean-Michel Yotio has signed a National Letter of Intent with the Golden Knights and will join the program next fall. A 6-foot-9, 235 power forward from Montverde Academy in nearby Lake County, Yotio is a native of the Ivory Coast. He missed last season due to an illness, but shined on the 2006 summer camp circuit. Yotio plays at Montverde, one of the best prep teams in the state, for coach Kevin Sutton.

This Date in UCF History: In 2000, Paul Reed had a double-double with 12 points and a dozen boards as the Golden Knights registered a 68-64 victory at Middle Tennessee.

Up Next: UCF will face Utah in the first round of the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The Golden Knights and the Utes will be meeting for the first time. All-time, UCF is 0-3 all-time against Mountain West Conference programs, having faced UNLV (0-2) and New Mexico (0-1). In the second round of the eight-team event, UCF will face either Appalachian State or Virginia. When UCF competes at the tournament, it will mark the third time since 2000 that the Golden Knights will leave the continental United States for a tournament. UCF won three contests in November 2004 to claim the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. In November 2000, UCF competed at the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Tournament in Kapolei. The squad opens the San Juan Shootout on Dec. 19 against Utah.