Golden Knights Return Home to Host SMU

Jan. 16, 2007

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - After four-straight games on the road, the UCF men's basketball team returns home to host Conference USA rival SMU on Wednesday evening. Tip-off at UCF Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Golden Knights are 12-4 overall on the year and 1-1 in league play. SMU is 11-5 and 0-2 in C-USA.

At halftime, one fan will be selected to participate in the "Get Coke Cash Crazy" in-game promotion. The fan, who will participate in a shooting contest, will have a shot at winning $10,000. The promotion is sponsored by Coca-Cola.

The UCF Student Government Association will select a student who exhibits the most school spirit as its "Fan of the Game." The student will receive a $250 scholarship. The C-USA home opener with SMU is also UCF faculty and staff night. All UCF employees can show their school IDs and get into the game for $4.

Tickets for the game are available by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 407-839-3900. A new C-USA ticket package is currently available. Tickets to all eight league games can be purchased for only $48. Call 407-UCF-1000 to learn more about the package.

UCF-SMU will be broadcast live on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 THE TEAM AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call live from courtside. Live audio and statistics will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.

Series History: UCF and SMU will be meeting for the second time overall and for the first time in Orlando. The Mustangs claimed a 77-55 win over UCF in Dallas on Feb. 18, 2006. The Golden Knights shot just 35.7 percent overall, 29.4 percent from deep and 55.6 percent at the free-throw line in the loss. Josh Peppers led UCF with 14 points. Bryan Hopkins paced SMU with 23 points and Devon Pearson had a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards. The hosts shot 54 percent overall and led 36-22 at halftime.

About SMU: The Mustangs, who have lost two-straight league contests, are one of the top rebounding teams in Conference USA. Donatas Rackauskas is third in the league at 7.3 boards per game and Ike Ofoegbu is fourth (7.1). Ofoegbu is the team's top scorer at 12.4 points per game. Jon Killen is one of the top guards in C-USA and is averaging 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals. Bamba Fall ranks second in the conference in blocks per game (2.56). The Mustangs are averaging 66.9 points per game, which ranks 10th in the league, but are allowing just 60.4 points. SMU is shooting 45.2 percent overall and 40.1 percent from deep. On Saturday, the squad dropped an 82-67 contest at Houston. Derrick Roberts scored a team-high 14 points for the Mustangs.

UCF-SMU Connections: Matt Doherty is in his first season as the head coach at SMU. A year ago, he was the head coach at Florida Atlantic when the Owls recorded a 59-54 win over UCF in Boca Raton. Steve Orsini, who was UCF's director of athletics from 2002-06, is in his first year guiding the SMU athletics department.

UCF Last Time Out: Mike O'Donnell hit four 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a team-high 20 points as UCF topped host Marshall, 78-71, on Saturday. O'Donnell nailed all four of his treys and had 14 points as the Golden Knights opened the second half with a 24-9 run. Dave Noel added a career-high 17 points in the win. UCF shot 51.9 percent overall and 46.7 percent from deep for the contest.

Welcome Back: The Golden Knights have played four-straight games on the road and will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 30. UCF opened January with contests at Colorado, South Dakota State, UAB and Marshall. The team spent 13 of the first 14 days in January on the road or traveling.

Happy to be Home: UCF has won nine-straight contests at home and is 8-0 at the UCF Arena this season. In their eight games in Orlando, the Golden Knights are averaging 83 points and have a +24 scoring margin.

Points No Longer at a Premium: UCF scored more than 70 points in a game only five times a year ago, but has already eclipsed the 70-point mark 12 times in 16 games in 2006-07. After averaging just 63.3 points per game last season, the Golden Knights are averaging 77.2 points this year. The squad eclipsed the 80-point mark only once a year ago, but has already scored more than 80 points in a game on seven occasions this season. UCF owns a +11.4 scoring margin.

Three the Easy Way: UCF leads Conference USA and ranks 14th nationally, shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range. The Golden Knights are making 8.3 treys a contest. This season, the team is 9-3 when making seven or more 3-pointers. Mike O'Donnell paces C-USA in 3-point field-goal percentage (50). Jermaine Taylor is second, shooting 48.8 percent from deep. Taylor ranks 14th among all players in the country. O'Donnell would rank in the top-10, but players must make at least 2.5 treys per game to qualify.

Straight Shooters: The Golden Knights are shooting 48.8 percent from the field on the year, which leads Conference USA. That mark is good for 27th in the country. Jermaine Taylor is eighth in the league at 53.8 percent and Mike O'Donnell ranks 10th at 49.2 percent. UCF has shot 50 percent or better from the floor on seven occasions this season.

The Sixth Sense: Jermaine Taylor, who leads UCF in scoring at 15 points per game, ranks third nationally in scoring average among all sixth men. He has come off of the bench in all 16 of the Golden Knights' contests. UMBC's Brian Hodges is the top scoring reserve in the country, averaging 17 points a game.

New and Improved: A year ago, Jermaine Taylor scored 130 points as a freshman, seeing time in all 29 of UCF's games. In 16 contests in 2006-07, the sophomore has totaled 240 points and leads UCF at 15 points per game. He has paced UCF in scoring eight times. 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 12 of the Golden Knights' 16 games. He has made 41 triples this year after canning 17 a year ago. Last season, Taylor shot 39.5 percent overall and 30.4 percent from deep. He is currently hitting 53.8 percent of his field-goal attempts and is shooting 48.8 percent from behind-the-arc.

Texas Four-Step: SMU is the first of four-straight schools from the state of Texas that UCF will play. After facing the Mustangs, the Golden Knights host Rice and then play at Houston and UTEP. UCF opened the 2006-07 campaign by facing six-consecutive in-state programs. Excluding Florida, the Golden Knights have never played more than three-straight opponents from the same state.

House of Payne: Lavell Payne has led UCF on the boards in each of the team's last three games. He is averaging 8.7 boards during the stretch. The senior forward totaled a career-high 12 rebounds at South Dakota State on Jan. 6. In Conference USA play, he is averaging seven boards.

No Turnover: Mike O'Donnell leads Conference USA in assist/turnover ratio (2.58). He has totaled 62 assists and just 24 turnovers on the year. Teammate Dave Noel is sixth in the league at 1.85.

Board Games: Playing 15.6 minutes per game off of the bench, freshman forward Tony Davis is second on the team, averaging 5.1 rebounds. Davis has led UCF in rebounds nine times this year and totaled 10 boards in the squad's outing on Dec. 30 against Texas-Pan Am. A candidate for the All-C-USA Freshman Team, he was the Florida Class 6A Player of the Year at Riverview High School in Sarasota.

Big Man on Campus: Stanley Billings is among the Conference USA leaders, averaging 1.1 blocks per game. He has 14 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.

This Date in UCF History: In 1979 against Florida Tech, Bo Clark scored 51 points, the second-highest single-game total in school history, in a 106-79 win over Florida Tech.

Up Next: The Golden Knights conclude a two-game homestand on Saturday, hosting Rice. The all-time series is tied, 1-1. The squads will be meeting in Orlando for the first time. Last year, the teams played once as Conference USA rivals and the Golden Knights claimed a 77-64 victory in Houston on Feb. 25, 2006. UCF shot 56.9 percent overall and 12-of-22 (50 percent) from 3-point range. Justin Rose was 9-of-11 from the field on his way to a game-high 22 points. Josh Peppers totaled 21 points and Mike O'Donnell hit four treys and finished with 13 points and five assists. J.R. Harrison paced the Owls with 14 points and Morris Almond scored 11 points in 20 minutes.