Men's Basketball Faces Host UTEP on Saturday

Jan. 26, 2007

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EL PASO, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will look to return to its winning ways when it faces host UTEP for a Conference USA contest on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. Eastern.

The Golden Knights (14-5, 3-2 C-USA) have won three of their last four games. UTEP is 12-8 overall and 4-2 in conference action.

The contest will be televised live nationally on CSTV. Carter Blackburn will handle the play-by-play duties and Pete Gillen will provide color commentary. CSTV is also offering the event online on a pay-per-view basis at cstvppv.com.

UCF-UTEP 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 statistics will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.

Series History: The all-time series is tied, 1-1. Last year, UCF claimed a 66-55 win over the Miners in Orlando on March 4, 2006 in the regular-season finale for both teams. Mike O'Donnell was 6-of-6 from 3-point range and had 23 points in the win. The Golden Knights shot 52.9 percent from deep and had a 31-26 edge on the glass. Jason Williams led UTEP with 26 points. The teams will be meeting in El Paso for the first time since Dec. 15, 1978 when UTEP claimed a 92-64 victory. The Golden Knights were competing at the Division II level at the time. Bo Clark, UCF's all-time leading scorer, paced the Golden Knights with 27 points against the Miners.

About UTEP: The Miners are 9-4 at home this year and have claimed five-straight in El Paso. On Wednesday, UTEP dropped a 73-67 contest at Rice. The Miners shot just 51.9 percent from the free-throw line against the Owls. UTEP features one of the top offensive players in Conference USA in Stefon Jackson. He is averaging a team-high 18.9 points to go with 5.3 rebounds. The Miners rank second in the league, scoring 78.5 points per game. They are shooting 43.3 percent from the floor.

UCF Last Time Out: A career-high 26 points from Lavell Payne was spoiled as host Houston rallied from a 22-point second-half deficit to post a 73-70 overtime victory over the Golden Knights on Wednesday. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for UCF. The Golden Knights had a chance to send the game into a second overtime, but Jermaine Taylor missed a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining. UCF led 35-15 at halftime, but the Cougars' Robert McKiver scored 20 of his game-high 36 points in the last 12 minutes of regulation. Houston outscored UCF 39-17 during the stretch. The Golden Knights turned the ball over 13 times in the second half and had 24 turnovers for the game.

UCF-UTEP Connections: As a junior at Florida in 1992, UCF assistant coach Craig Brown and his Gator teammates competed at the Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso. Florida did not face UTEP at tournament and finished third at the event. Brown earned a spot on the all-tournament squad. Kirk Speraw was an assistant coach on the Florida staff at the time.

Texas Four-Step: UCF has faced three-straight programs from the state of Texas. The Golden Knights played SMU and Rice at home last week and faced host Houston on Wednesday.

Winning Mentality: Nineteen games into the season, UCF has already equaled its victory total from last year. In 2005-06, the Golden Knights went 14-15 overall.

Getting Offensive: Last season, UCF scored more than 70 points in a contest only five times. In 2006-07, the Golden Knights have already scored at least 70 points 14 times in 19 games. After averaging just 63.3 points per game last season, the Golden Knights are scoring 75.8 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 +10.1 scoring margin.

On the Rebound: UCF is 4-0 this season after a loss. All four of those victories have come away from Orlando.

Target Practice: The Golden Knights lead Conference USA and rank 16th nationally, shooting 49.2 percent from the floor. Jermaine Taylor is seventh in the conference and 64th in the country at 53.5 percent and Lavell Payne is 15th in the league at 47.6 percent. UCF has shot 50 percent or better from the floor on nine occasions this season. The Golden Knights are 9-0 in those contests.

From Deep: UCF has the two most accurate 3-point shooters in Conference USA. Mike O'Donnell leads the league, shooting 48.4 percent from deep. He is followed by Jermaine Taylor (45.9). The Golden Knights pace Conference USA and are 14th in the nation, hitting 40.2 percent of their attempts from behind-the-arc. The team is averaging 7.84 treys per contest.

The Sixth Sense: Jermaine Taylor leads UCF in scoring and is one of the top sixth men in the nation this season. A candidate for Conference USA's Sixth Man of the Year award, Taylor ranks second nationally in scoring among all reserves at 14.6 points per game. During his career at UCF, Taylor has never started a game. UMBC's Brian Hodges is the top scoring reserve in the country, averaging 16.1 points a contest.

Taylor-Made: A year ago, Jermaine Taylor scored 130 points as a freshman, seeing time in all 29 of UCF's games. In 19 contests in 2006-07, the sophomore has totaled 278 points and leads UCF at 14.6 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 14 of the Golden Knights' 19 games. He has made 45 triples this season after canning 17 a year ago. Last season, Taylor shot 39.5 percent overall and 30.4 percent from deep. He is currently hitting 53.5 percent of his field-goal attempts and is shooting 45.9 percent from behind-the-arc.

House of Payne: Lavell Payne had a career night offensively at Houston. The senior forward totaled a career-best 26 points. His previous career-high was 15 points. He went 13-of-16 at the free-throw line against the Cougars. The 13 made free throws were good for fifth on UCF's single-game register.

Major Payne in C-USA Play: Lavell Payne has been solid down low for UCF in league play. In five Conference USA games, he is averaging 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 59 percent from the field. In the Golden Knights' 14 non-conference games, Payne averaged 8.4 points on 42.4 percent shooting.

On the Road Again: When the Golden Knights take the court at UTEP, it will mark UCF's sixth road game of the month. UCF began January with four-straight away games. The squad spent 13 of the first 14 days of the month on the road or traveling. The Golden Knights' six road games in January is the most for the program in a single month since the 1998-99 season. In total, the team has spent 18 of the first 27 days in January on the road or traveling.

Frequent Flyers: The trip to El Paso will conclude UCF's third two-game road swing of the month. The Golden Knights have spent plenty of time in the air, flying to Denver, Colo., Sioux Falls, S.D., Birmingham, Ala., Charleston, W.Va., Houston and El Paso, Texas. After landing in El Paso on Thursday, the team had flown 6,347 total miles this month.

Long Distance: The trip to El Paso is the longest conference voyage for the Golden Knights. From Orlando to El Paso is 1,510 miles via the air. UTEP is the only Conference USA school that is located in the Mountain Time Zone.

Benchmark: At Houston on Wednesday, UCF's reserves outscored the Cougars bench, 21-0. Thanks to Jermaine Taylor who paces the squad at 14.6 points per game, the Golden Knights' reserves are averaging 29.2 points per contest. UCF's bench has outscored the opponent's reserves on 16 occasions in 2006-07.

Changing of the Guard: As the backup point guard last year, Dave Noel averaged just 2.8 points in 11.8 minutes an outing. Now starting at shooting guard, the junior is averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He is shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and 81 percent at the free-throw stripe. In Conference USA play, Noel is scoring 12 points a game and averaging five boards and 3.8 assists. Against league opponents, he is shooting 56 percent overall and is 31-of-36 (86.1 percent) at the charity stripe.

Windex Man: In limited minutes this season, freshman Tony Davis has proved that he can rebound. The forward is second on the squad, averaging five rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game. 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.

This Date in UCF History: In 1994, Darryl Davis paced all UCF scorers with 26 points to lead the Golden Knights to an 89-82 victory over host Centenary. James Walker grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for the Golden Knights.

Up Next: UCF returns home to host No. 11 Memphis on Wednesday. The Tigers will most likely be the highest-ranked opponent to visit UCF Arena. All-time, the Golden Knights have faced only one nationally-ranked opponent at UCF Arena (No. 25 College of Charleston in 2002). Memphis has a 4-0 edge in the all-time series and the teams will be playing in Orlando for the first time. Last season, the squads met on Jan. 28, 2006 in Memphis and the Tigers claimed a 94-61 win. The hosts led 42-30 at halftime. Mike O'Donnell and Dave Noel each scored 10 points for UCF. Rodney Carney hit five 3-pointers and paced Memphis with 26 points. Wednesday's game will be televised regionally on Comcast Sports South. UCF is encouraging its fans to wear black to the game.