Golden Knights Advance To Championship Of UCF Holiday Classic


Dec. 29, 2006

Final Stats | Notes

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Junior guard Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) scored 18 points and senior forward Josh Peppers (Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven) added 17 to lead the UCF men's basketball team to a 75-63 victory over New Jersey Tech in the first round of the UCF Holiday Classic Friday evening at the UCF Arena. UCF improved to 9-2 with the victory as head coach Kirk Speraw recorded the 300th win of his career.

The Golden Knights will play Texas-Pan Am in the tournament championship game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

UCF led by as many as 20 points in the second half, but the Highlanders (2-10) remained in the contest, shooting 57.7 percent in the final stanza. The hosts shot 48 percent overall and 55 percent from 3-point range for the game, but also committed 18 turnovers.

"We didn't have the execution that we would have liked," said Speraw, whose team was playing for the first time in eight days. "We played well enough to get the job done. We need to bounce back in 24 hours and play a lot better tomorrow."

The Golden Knights opened the game on a 10-2 run and never trailed in the contest. UCF made 7-of-13 three-point attempts and shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening half to build a 40-25 advantage at the break.

The Highlanders cut their deficit to single digits at 54-45 with 11:12 to play, but UCF answered with a 13-3 run that gave the Golden Knights their largest lead of the game at 67-48.

O'Donnell was 4-of-8 from deep in the contest. Junior guard Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) recorded 10 points and a career-high eight assists. O'Donnell dished out seven assists as UCF totaled 20 assists on 24 made field goals.

New Jersey Tech's Clayton Barker led all scorers with 19 points before fouling out with 1:18 to play. Kraig Peters scored 14 for the Highlanders, who outscored UCF 38-35 in the second half.

Texas-Pan Am, led by former UCF assistant coach Tom Schuberth, defeated James Madison, 70-57, to open the event. On Saturday, New Jersey Tech will play James Madison in the tournament consolation game at 5 p.m.

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