UCF to Compete at San Juan Shootout

Dec. 17, 2006

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will enjoy the Caribbean this week when the Golden Knights participate in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico. The Golden Knights (6-1) open the eight-team event at 2 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Dec. 19 against Utah at the Mario Morales Coliseum.

The Golden Knights are off to a 6-1 start for the second time in the last three years. UCF will be playing away from home for only the second time this season. On the year, the squad is averaging 81 points per game. In 2005-06, UCF averaged just 63.3 points. The Golden Knights lead Conference USA in field-goal percentage, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor, and assists (17.43) per game.

Utah is 4-5 this season. On Wednesday, UCF will face either Appalachian State or Virginia. The squad will conclude the event with a contest on Thursday.

All of UCF's games at the tournament 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: 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). The last time that UCF played a current Mountain West squad was in 1995 against UNLV.

About Utah: The Utes are coming off of a 77-58 home win over Cal Poly on Saturday. Center Luke Nevill, who is among the nation's leaders in field-goal percentage (69.1), scored 29 points in the victory. Forward Shaun Green added 12 points, nine boards and eight assists. The Utes shot 52.9 percent from the floor. On the season, Nevill is averaging 18.9 points and 8.7 rebounds. Guard Johnnie Bryant is second on the squad in scoring at 15.7 points per game. Utah is shooting 51.6 percent overall and 46.1 percent from deep.

Up Next for UCF in San Juan: The Golden Knights will play either Appalachian State (7-3) or Virginia (6-1) on Wednesday. The Golden Knights have never met either program. UCF is 11-22 against current Southern Conference programs. The last league team that UCF met was The Citadel in 2003. The Golden Knights posted a 74-60 victory on the road. All-time, UCF is 0-20 versus current Atlantic Coast Conference members. An 0-6 mark against Miami is included in that total. The squads last met in 2002, when the Hurricanes were competing in the BIG EAST.

San Juan Shootout Lineup: Northwestern, host Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Tennessee Tech and Vanderbilt are also competing at the event. Northwestern (6-2) and Vanderbilt (6-3) both enter the tournament with winning records and Tennessee Tech is 4-4 in 2006-07. In its 20th year, the San Juan Shooutout is the longest-running college basketball tournament outside of the continental United States. Clemson claimed the event in 2005.

UCF Last Time Out: Playing on the road for the first time this season, UCF dropped a 74-63 contest at Minnesota on Dec. 12. Jermaine Taylor came off of the bench to score a team-high 22 points in the losing effort. The Golden Knights shot just 26.9 percent in the first half and 33.9 percent for the game. Dave Noel totaled a career-high 15 points and five steals for UCF. The Golden Gophers led 36-21 at halftime. The hosts shot 50 percent from the floor and held a 42-30 edge on the glass.

UCF-Utah Connections: As a sophomore at Florida during the 1991-92 season, UCF assistant coach Craig Brown and the Gators met Utah in the consolation game of the postseason National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. Despite a season-high 20 points from Brown, the Utes posted an 81-78 victory.

Super Sophomore: In 29 contests last year as a freshman, Jermaine Taylor scored 130 total points, averaging 4.5 per game. The guard has shown great improvement in 2006-07, leading UCF in scoring at 18.1 points per game. He has paced the squad in scoring in five of its seven games and has been the team's first player off of 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 seven of the Golden Knights' games. The Tavares native is shooting 52.5 percent from deep and has connected on 21 treys. In 2005-06, he totaled just 17 3-pointers.

Travelling Men: When UCF competes in Puerto Rico, 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. All-time, the Golden Knights are 4-2 outside the continental United States.

In-Season Tournament Success: The Golden Knights have competed in a pair of eight-team in-season tournaments since 2002 and have won both events. UCF claimed the BP Top of the World Classic in Alaska with three victories in 2004. Kirk Speraw's squad won the University Hoops Classic in New Oreleans with three wins in 2002. Tulane hosted the event.

Solid Start to the Season: UCF began the campaign 6-0 the first time since moving to the Division I level prior to the 1984-85 season. As a result of their solid start, the Golden Knights received three votes in the Dec. 11 Associated Press Top 25 poll. It marked the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season that UCF received votes in one of the two national polls.

Big Man on Campus: Stanley Billings has totaled 10 blocks in UCF's last four games. The 6-foot-11 junior college transfer recorded three swats at Minnesota. He paces the team with 12 blocks on the year. An Orlando native, Billings graduated from Oak Ridge High School, where he did not play basketball, in 1996. Following high school, he spent eight years in the Marines. He started playing competitive basketball while in the military. According to research by the UCF Athletics Communications Office, Billings is the oldest Division I player in the nation

Heading for 300: Head coach Kirk Speraw needs 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 215 games at the school. In his other stint as a head coach, Speraw recorded 82 wins from 1987-90 at Pensacola Junior College.

New Chairman of the Boards: Although he is averaging just 17.6 minutes of action as a reserve, freshman Tony Davis leads the Golden Knights in rebounds at 6.0 per game. He grabbed seven boards in the win over Florida Atlantic and also scored nine points. Eleven of his 31 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.

Noel Enjoying the Holiday Season: Dave Noel is enjoying December. The shooting guard scored a career-best 15 points and added five steals versus Minnesota. On the season, the junior is averaging 8.1 points, four boards, 2.4 assists and 1.9 steals. In his first season with the Golden Knights last year, Noel saw time in 28 games as a reserve and averaged 11.8 minutes and 2.8 points.

This Date in UCF History: Pat Crocklin scored 18 points in 1986 to lift UCF to an 88-82 victory over Campbell in the first round of the Merrill Lynch Classic at Valencia Community College in Orlando.

Up Next: After participating in the San Juan Shootout, the Golden Knights will return home to host the UCF Holiday Classic. James Madison, New Jersey Tech and Texas-Pan Am are scheduled to compete at the event. UCF will face New Jersey Tech in the first round. The Highlanders are in their first year at the Division I level and the teams will be meeting for the first time. The Golden Knights have never faced James Madison and are 4-0 against Texas-Pan Am, including a 2-0 mark in Orlando. From 1990-92, the programs were league foes, first in the American South and then in the Sun Belt. The Broncs are led by former UCF associate head coach Tom Schuberth. Schuberth, who served as an assistant with the Golden Knights from 2002-06, is in his first season at Texas-Pan Am. While in Orlando, he helped UCF to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.