Men's Basketball Too Much for SMU


Jan. 17, 2007

Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Playing in front of the home fans was something UCF had not experienced since Dec. 30. But the Golden Knights (13-4, 2-1) took advantage of having a raucous crowd behind them Wednesday, defeating SMU (11-6, 0-3) in a Conference USA showdown, 64-56, at the UCF Arena. Sophomore guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) sparked UCF in the second half, scoring 11 of his game-high 18 points in the final frame.

The contest was played in front of 3,151 fans, the seventh-largest home crowd in program history.

"It was a tremendous effort defensively," said head coach Kirk Speraw. "SMU is a very physical team. Our guys had to fight and claw for everything. It was a challenge for us defensively, but we were able to fight and battle for the win."

Although the team shot just 25 percent (3-for-12) from downtown, UCF completed the win by having a 54.5 percent clip (24-for-44) from the field. Senior forward Lavell Payne (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard), junior guards Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) and Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) each recorded nine points, while freshman forward Tony Davis (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview) grabbed seven boards.

Eight different players totaled at least two points in the first half to give UCF a 33-26 halftime cushion. Senior forward Josh Peppers (Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven) provided the Golden Knights with their first lead thanks to a layup at the 10:34 mark to make it 12-10. That came moments after UCF failed to score over a 4:56 span. UCF limited SMU to only three points during the stretch.

After trading early field goals to start the second half, UCF found a rhythm en route to building a 41-30 advantage. Its 11-point margin was capped off by a quick steal and a two-handed thunder dunk on the breakaway by Davis.

An SMU timeout slowed down the UCF momentum and the Mustangs went on an 8-2 run to trim it to 43-38. That was when Payne took matters into his own hands and sent the crowd into a frenzy with a one-handed slam over 7-foot-1 Bamba Fall.

UCF held SMU at bay the rest of the game, getting key buckets from Taylor down the stretch. The backbreaker came from O'Donnell when he drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with under two minutes to play, pushing the lead to 61-53. SMU was never able to recover, failing to bring its deficit to under five points in the second half.

Brian Epps came off the bench for SMU and finished with 14 points to lead the way for the Mustangs, who shot 36.7 percent (18-for-49) and went 6-for-24 from three-point land.

The Golden Knights conclude a two-game homestand on Saturday, Jan. 20, hosting Rice for a conference contest. Tip-off at the UCF Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.

For the latest news and information on the Golden Knights, tickets or apparel, log on to www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF athletics.