Golden Knights Seeking 6-0 Start

Dec. 8, 2006

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Off to its best start since the 1993-94 season, the UCF men's basketball team will be looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time at the Division I level when it hosts in-state rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday evening. Tip-off at the UCF Arena is slated for 7:30 p.m.

The Golden Knights have defeated their five opponents in 2006-07 by an average of 26.4 points, which is good for fourth nationally. UCF ranks ninth nationally in assists per game (19.2). The team is in the top-25 in the NCAA in several other statistical categories, including field goal percentage, scoring offense and scoring defense.

The Golden Knights' top scorer at 17.4 points per game, sophomore guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) is 13th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage (54.2). He is shooting 59.3 percent from the floor, which is good for 62nd nationally. The guard has reached double-figures in all five of UCF's contests this year.

Senior forward Josh Peppers (Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven) needs just five points to become the 13th 1,000-point scorer in program history.

Florida Atlantic, coached by former National Basketball Association standout Rex Walters, is 3-4 on the year and has won three-straight contests.

The game is part of a doubleheader with UCF's women's squad, who face 25th-ranked Florida State at 5:30 p.m. A single ticket allows entry into both games. Tickets are available by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 407-839-3900. Season tickets are also currently available by calling 407-UCF-1000.

UCF-Florida Atlantic 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 and statistics will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.

Series History: The Golden Knights lead the all-time series with Florida Atlantic, 20-7. In Orlando, UCF has an 11-2 edge versus the Owls, who have won two-straight overall in the series. Kirk Speraw is 18-7 versus Florida Atlantic. The 18 victories are the second-most for Speraw against a single opponent (Stetson, 19). UCF and Florida Atlantic were Atlantic Sun Conference foes from 1993-05. The Golden Knights' 11 wins over the Owls at the UCF Arena are the most for the program versus an opponent at the venue. In five career contests, Josh Peppers is averaging 11.2 points against Florida Atlantic.

Last Time Out Against Florida Atlantic: On Dec. 13, 2005, the Owls claimed a 59-54 win over UCF in Boca Raton. Josh Peppers paced the Golden Knights with 24 points and nine boards. Justin Rose chipped in with 13 points. Florida Atlantic led 27-17 at the half. Brent Crews scored 13 points in the win and Derrick Simmons and Rodney Webb each scored 11 points for the Owls.

About Florida Atlantic: The Owls have won three-consecutive contests, most recently a 77-64 victory over visiting Norfolk State on Dec. 2. Carlos Monroe was 10-of-16 from the field on his way to 24 points in the victory. Florida Atlantic shot 55.3 percent overall and 52.9 percent from 3-point range against the Spartans. Paul Graham is the squad's top scorer at 17.2 points per game and Monroe is averaging 15 points and 7.8 boards. The Owls are shooting just 31.7 percent from deep and are 1-4 on the road in 2006-07.

UCF Last Time Out: Josh Peppers scored 24 points in only 22 minutes as the host Golden Knights eased to a 99-62 victory over Jacksonville on Nov. 27. Peppers was 9-of-13 overall and 6-of-8 from deep. UCF shot 65.4 percent from the field, the third-best mark in program history. From 3-point range, the team shot at a 63.2 percent clip, good for sixth on the program's single-game register. Tony Davis posted 14 points and seven boards off the bench.

UCF-FAU Connections: UCF director of basketball operations Micah Byars served as an assistant coach at Chipola College for two years when Florida Atlantic senior guard Brent Crews was on the Indians roster. From 2003-05, Chipola won 65 games and claimed a pair of state and National Junior College Athletic Association Region VIII titles.

Offensive Excellence: After averaging 63.3 points per game last year, UCF is averaging 83.4 points through five contests in 2006-07. A year ago, the squad eclipsed the 80-point mark just once, but has already achieved the feat four times this season. Against Jacksonville on Nov. 27, the Golden Knights totaled 99 points. The contest marked the first time that the squad had scored at least 90 points since Dec. 16, 2004. The Golden Knights have not averaged more than 70 points in a season since 2003-04.

Balanced Attack: UCF is using a balanced offense in 2006-07 as eight Golden Knights are averaging at least six points per contest. Two UCF players are averaging double-digits in scoring, Jermaine Taylor (17.4) and Josh Peppers (12.2.), and no player is averaging fewer than 3.7 points.

Shooters: Early this season, UCF has been accurate, shooting at a 51.8 percent clip from the field. Last year, the Golden Knights had a 43.4 field goal percentage. The team has already shot 50 percent or better in two of its five contests this season.

Going Deep: Kirk Speraw has not been shy about using his reserves this season. Eleven Golden Knights are averaging at least 10 minutes per game and no UCF player is averaging less than nine minutes. Josh Peppers leads the team in minutes per game at 24.6. In 2005-06, Mike O'Donnell paced the squad in minutes (30.8).

Windex Man: Although he is averaging just 17.2 minutes of action, Tony Davis leads the Golden Knights in rebounds at 6.6 per game. He grabbed nine boards in the win over Florida Tech and followed that performance with a game-high seven against Jacksonville. Eleven of the freshman's 22 rebounds have been on offensive end.

In-State Success: Since the start of the 2001-02 campaign, UCF is 31-11 against in-state opponents. Last season, the squad went 5-2 against Florida programs. In 2006-07, UCF opens the year by facing six-straight in-state foes.

Blocks Adding Up for Billings: Stanley Billings has totaled five blocks in his last two games. He had a pair of blocks in UCF's win over Jacksonville on Nov. 27. The 6-foot-11 junior college transfer leads the squad with seven swats on the year.

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 6.8 points in 19 minutes of action.

Off the Bench: Thanks to Jermaine Taylor, who has come off of the bench to lead the Golden Knights in scoring in three of its five games so far this season, UCF's reserves are averaging 42.4 points in 2006-07. Against Jacksonville, the bench accounted for a season-high 57 points.

Battle's Back: After transferring to UCF from Paris Junior College in Texas, Mike Battle missed all of last season with a tibia injury. This year, the shooting guard has seen time in all five contests and is averaging 4.2 points in 10.6 minutes of action. Against Jacksonville, he had seven points in 14 minutes.

Heading for 300: Head coach Kirk Speraw needs just four victories to reach the 300-career win mark. He has 296 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.

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: On this date in 1980, UCF defeated visiting Monmouth (Ill.), 89-74. The Golden Knights went 5-0 during the month of December that season.

Up Next: The Golden Knights will play their first road game of the season on Tuesday, Dec. 12, travelling to Minneapolis to face Minnesota. The squads 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.