Men's Basketball Hosts Tulsa for Key C-USA Contest

Feb. 2, 2007

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team hosts Tulsa on Saturday evening for a key Conference USA contest. Tip-off at the UCF Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Golden Knights are 15-6 overall and 4-3 in league play and along with Tulsa, are one of four squads tied for third in the conference. The Golden Hurricane enter the contest 14-6 overall and 4-3 against C-USA foes. 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 attended Kirk Speraw's UCF Basketball Camp this past summer are invited to attend the game for free. Children wearing their camp t-shirts will be admitted free of charge.

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.

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: The Golden Hurricane have a 2-1 edge in the all-time series, but UCF won the lone Conference USA matchup last year. On Jan. 21, 2006, the host Golden Knights recorded a 45-44 win when Josh Peppers blocked a layup by Tulsa's Anthony Price at the end of the game. The 44 points scored by the Golden Hurricane were the second-fewest by a UCF opponent at the Division I level. Anthony Williams paced the hosts with 15 points against Tulsa. UCF shot just 33.3 percent overall, while the Golden Hurricane shot at a 38.3 percent clip.

About Tulsa: Rod Earls hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to lift visiting Tulsa to a 79-78 win at Tulane on Wednesday evening. Earls hit five treys to finish with a team-high 15 points. The Golden Hurricane have won two-straight contests. Earls leads the team, averaging 12.5 points. He is shooting 42 percent from deep and paces Conference USA, making 89.7 percent of his free-throw attempts. Tulsa is averaging 71.8 points per game, while limiting opponents to 63.3 points. The team leads C-USA in free-throw shooting (72.9 percent).

UCF Last Time Out: A team-high 20 points from Josh Peppers was not enough as 11th-ranked Memphis used a strong inside presence to top host UCF, 87-65, on Wednesday. The game was played in front of a school record 4,805 fans. The Tigers were the highest-ranked team to play at the UCF Arena. Memphis used a 13-3 run at the end of the opening half to pull away from the hosts. The Tigers scored 50 of their 87 points in the paint. UCF shot at a 50 percent clip for the game and became the first team this season to shoot 50 percent or better against the Tigers.

UCF-Tulsa Connections: Tulsa guard Rod Earls played at Paris Junior College with UCF's Mike Battle. The pair helped lead the Dragons to the 2005 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I title. This will mark the second time this season that Battle has played against a junior college teammate. In December, the Golden Knights faced Texas-Pan Am and former Paris star Brian Burrell.

Winning Mentality: UCF has already eclipsed its victory total from a year ago. In 2005-06, the Golden Knights went 14-15 overall. Through 21 contests last season, UCF had a 10-11 record.

Bouncing Back: In 2006-07, the Golden Knights are 5-0 after a loss. All five of those victories have come away from Orlando. UCF's two captains have led the way in those five contests. Mike O'Donnell is averaging 14.4 points while shooting 60 percent overall and 56 percent from deep after a loss. Josh Peppers is averaging 14.2 points and is shooting 92.3 percent at the free-throw line following a defeat.

Homecourt Advantage: UCF is 10-1 at home this year and has won 44 contests at the UCF Arena since the start of the 2003-04 campaign. The Golden Knights' loss to 11th-ranked Memphis on Wednesday snapped a 12-game home winning streak for UCF.

Full House: UCF has already recorded five of the top-15 home crowds in program history this season. The attendance figures for the Golden Knights' three Conference USA games in Orlando all rank in the top-10 all-time at the school. The 4,805 fans on hand for the Memphis game on Jan. 31 marked the first sellout in program history. Through 11 games this year, 28,276 fans have attended UCF games. Last year, a total of 23,115 fans attended 15 home contests. UCF is averaging 3,921 spectators in conference play, well above its average of 1,732 in 2005-06.

Three the Easy Way: The Golden Knights are shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range this year. The mark paces Conference USA and ranks 17th nationally. UCF has two of the most accurate shooters from deep in the conference. Mike O'Donnell leads the league, shooting at a 47.1 percent clip. Making 44.9 percent of his 3-point field-goal attempts, Jermaine Taylor ranks second.

From Deep: UCF is 11-4 when making seven or more 3-pointers in 2006-07. The squad is averaging 7.9 triples per game.

Pepp Steps Up: Josh Peppers has been UCF's top offensive player in Conference USA action. He is averaging a team-best 13.7 points and has scored in double-figures in four of the Golden Knights' seven contests. The senior forward from Memphis is shooting 81.3 percent at the free-throw line and is averaging 4.6 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals.

Points Add Up for Peppers: Josh Peppers needs just eight points to join the top-10 career scoring list at UCF. The senior forward has scored 1,210 points while at UCF. Peppers scored 12 points in the win over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 9 to become just the 13th 1,000-point scorer in program history. The Memphis, Tenn. native became the first Golden Knight to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier since Paul Reed achieved the feat during the 2001-02 season.

Target Practice: The Golden Knights lead Conference USA, shooting 48.3 percent from the field. The team ranks 31st nationally. Jermaine Taylor is eighth in the league and 79th in the nation at 51.2 percent. Lavell Payne is 14th in C-USA (47.7 percent). UCF has shot 50 percent or better from the field 10 times this year. The Golden Knights are 9-1 in those contests.

MOD From Three: After hitting a pair of 3-pointers against Memphis in UCF's last outing, Mike O'Donnell has connected on 100 triples while with the Golden Knights. He needs just seven treys to gain a spot on UCF's career top-10 list. The junior, who played at NC State as a freshman in 2003-04, has drained 118 3-pointers at the collegiate level.

Home Sweet Home: The statistics prove that UCF enjoys playing at home. In 11 home games this year, UCF is shooting 52.5 percent from the field, compared to 41.9 percent on the road. From 3-point range, the Golden Knights are shooting 44.2 percent (34.4 on road) and have a +16.6 scoring margin in Orlando.

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 71.9 percent of its attempts at the charity stripe. That mark is good for second in C-USA. Dave Noel (82.1 percent) ranks fifth and Josh Peppers is eighth at 77.6 percent.

This Date in UCF History: In 1996, UCF posted a 79-58 victory over Campbell in Buies Creek, N.C. Eric Riggs paced the Golden Knights with 19 points.

Up Next: UCF travels to Greenville, N.C. to face East Carolina on Wednesday. UCF has a 5-0 edge in the all-time series and claimed three contests against the Pirates last year. All of the program's victories against East Carolina have come under Kirk Speraw. The Golden Knights topped the Pirates, 64-49, on Jan. 25, 2006 in Greenville. In three contests against the Pirates, Josh Peppers is averaging 16.7 points. He shot 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from 3-point range versus the Pirates. In UCF's 65-52 win over East Carolina in the opening round of the Conference USA Championship in Memphis on March 8, 2006, Peppers hit five treys and finished with a game-high 25 points. The Golden Knights blocked nine shots against East Carolina with Adam Gill recording four swats in the victory.