Golden Knights Seeking More UCF Arena Success

Jan. 19, 2007

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will be seeking its 11th-straight win at home when it hosts Rice for a Conference USA contest on Saturday. Tip-off at the UCF Arena is slated for 7:30 p.m.

The Golden Knights have won two-straight contests and are 13-4 overall. The squad is off to a 2-1 start in league play. Rice is 3-0 in C-USA action and 9-7 on the year.

A special Weekend Night Out ticket deal is available for the game. Two general admission tickets, two soft drinks, two hot dogs and one popcorn can be purchased for only $20.

All children who wear a basketball jersey to the game can purchase tickets for $4. Fans who attend the UCF-Southern Miss women's basketball game in the afternoon can bring their ticket stub and get into the men's 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 seven of UCF's remaining home league games can be purchased for only $48. Call 407-UCF-1000 to learn more about the package.

The contest 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 Rice will be meeting for the third time overall and for the first time in Orlando. The all-time series is tied, 1-1. 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. Rice is the second of four-straight opponents from Texas for the Golden Knights.

About Rice: The Owls are led by the nation's second-leading scorer, Morris Almond, who is averaging 28.1 points per contest. An All-America candidate, Almond has hit 41 3-pointers on the year and also paces Rice on the boards (6.6 rebounds per game). He scored 28 points in the squad's 76-71 win over cross-town rival Houston on Wednesday. The Cougars led by 24 points in the second half, but Rice rallied, shooting 60 percent in the final stanza. Almond had 19 points after halftime. Rice is averaging 72.1 points per game and is shooting 44.8 percent overall.

UCF Last Time Out: Jermaine Taylor scored a game-high 18 points as the Golden Knights recorded a 64-56 home victory over SMU on Wednesday. UCF shot 54.5 percent for the game. Tony Davis recorded a team-high seven ebounds in 11 minutes of action. UCF limited the Mustangs to only 36.7 percent shooting from the floor.

Brand New: UCF needs only one victory to equal its win total from a year ago. The team went 14-15 in 2005-06.

Happy to be Home: UCF has won 10-straight contests at home and is 9-0 at the UCF Arena this season. In their nine games in Orlando, the Golden Knights are averaging 81.2 points and have a +22.2 scoring margin and a +12.7 rebound margin. UCF has outrebounded all nine of its opponents at the UCF Arena. The 2006-07 season will serve as the program's final campaign at the UCF Arena. The team will move into the new Convocation Center on campus next fall.

No Half Stepping: This season, UCF is 11-0 when leading at halftime. In the win over SMU, the Golden Knights led 33-26 at the break.

Keeping Score: Last season, UCF scored more than 70 points in a contest only five times. In 2006-07, the Golden Knights have already eclipsed the 70-point mark 12 times in 17 games. After averaging just 63.3 points per game last season, the Golden Knights are scoring 76.4 points per contest 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 +11.2 scoring margin.

On Target: The Golden Knights lead Conference USA and rank 27th nationally, shooting 49.1 percent from the field. Jermaine Taylor is eighth in the league at 54.1 percent and Mike O'Donnell ranks 11th at 48.8 percent. UCF has shot 50 percent or better from the floor on eight occasions this season.

From Deep: UCF ranks second in Conference USA and 14th nationally, hitting 40.7 percent of its 3-pointers. The Golden Knights are making eight triples per game. This season, he team is 9-3 when making seven or more 3-pointers. Mike O'Donnell paces C-USA in 3-point field-goal percentage (48.8). Jermaine Taylor is third, shooting 47.7 percent from deep. Taylor ranks 14th among all players in the country. O'Donnell would rank in the top-15, but players must make at least 2.5 treys per game to qualify.

The Sixth Sense: Jermaine Taylor, who leads UCF in scoring at 15.2 points per game, ranks second in the country in scoring average among all sixth men. He has come off of the bench in all 17 of the Golden Knights' contests. During his career at UCF, Taylor has never started a game. UMBC's Brian Hodges is the top scoring reserve in the country, averaging 16.2 points an outing.

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 258 points and leads UCF at 15.2 points per game. He has paced UCF in scoring nine 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 13 of the Golden Knights' 17 games. He has made 42 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 54.1 percent of his field-goal attempts and is shooting 47.7 percent from behind-the-arc.

Noel Solid in C-USA Play: Dave Noel has excelled in UCF's three Conference USA games this season. He is averaging 12.7 points while shooting 58.8 percent from the field. The junior is dishing out three assists per contest and is also averaging 1.67 steals. As the backup point guard last year, Noel averaged just 2.8 points in 11.8 minutes an outing. He is now starting at shooting guard and showing his talents. The junior, who sat out the 2004-05 season after transferring from UNC-Wilmington, is playing 27.6 minutes per contest this season, averaging 9.3 points and four boards while shooting 54.4 percent from the floor.

Windex Man: In just 11 minutes in the win over SMU, Tony Davis grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, with four coming on the offensive end. On the season, the freshman paces UCF, averaging 5.1 boards per game. He has led the squad on the glass 10 times. Davis' 3.65 defensive rebounds an outing rank 14th in Conference USA. 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.

The Dish: Last year as a freshman, Kenrick Zondervan registered zero assists in 18 games. Against SMU on Wednesday, he led UCF with four assists. Zondervan has 10 assists on the season.

No Turnover: Mike O'Donnell has helped UCF take good care of the ball this season. The junior point guard is second in Conference USA with a 2.41 assist/turnover ratio. Teammate Dave Noel ranks seventh at 1.79. The pair has combined for 117 assists and just 56 turnovers in 2006-07.

Taking the Charity: Last year, the Golden Knights were less than solid at the free-throw line, shooting 64.3 percent. This season, a pair of Golden Knights are in Conference USA's top-10 as the squad is connecting on 70.7 percent of its attempts at the charity stripe. The mark ranks third in the league. Dave Noel (78.5 percent) ranks seventh and Josh Peppers is ninth at 75.9 percent.

Cingular Wireless Knights Roundtable: Each Monday, Kirk Speraw joins host Marc Daniels for the "Cingular Wireless Knights Roundtable" radio show on the UCF ISP Sports Network. The weekly program airs on 740 THE TEAM AM in Orlando. The program originates from the Applebee's on University Boulevard.

This Date in UCF History: In 2003, Marius Boyd recorded seven steals in the Golden Knights' 72-48 victory at Jacksonville. The seven steals were good for sixth on UCF's single-game register.

Up Next: After two-straight games at home, UCF returns to the road to face Houston on Wednesday. The teams met three times last year and the Cougars lead the all-time series, 2-1. UCF won the first series matchup, 66-56, in Houston on Jan. 14, 2006. The victory served as the program's first Conference USA win. Anthony Williams paced UCF with 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor. He added nine boards and five blocks in the win. Justin Rose totaled 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Golden Knights. Later in the season, Houston defeated UCF in Orlando and in the second round of the C-USA Championship in Memphis, Tenn. In three games against the Cougars, Josh Peppers is averaging 12.7 points.