Golden Knights to Visit Tulsa on Saturday

Feb. 23, 2007

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will be looking for its third-straight victory when it travels to the Sooner State to face Conference USA foe Tulsa on Saturday evening. Tip-off at the Reynolds Center is slated for 8 p.m. Eastern.

The contest will serve as the final road game of the year for the Golden Knights (20-7, 9-4 C-USA). The Golden Knights have recorded 20-victory campaigns in four of the last five years.

With three games remaining the regular season, UCF is currently tied with Houston for second in the C-USA standings. The top four teams in the league receive a bye for the first round of the C-USA Championship, which starts March 7 in Memphis, Tenn.

Tulsa enters Saturday's game with a 16-10 overall mark and a 6-7 record in league contests.

UCF-Tulsa will be aired 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 all-time series is tied, 2-2, but UCF has won both contests since the programs joined Conference USA prior to last season. Tulsa is 2-0 against UCF at home. On Feb. 3, 2007, the Golden Knights posted a 63-53 victory over Tulsa in Orlando. In the win, Lavell Payne recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Dave Noel and Jermaine Taylor both scored 11 points for UCF. The Golden Knights limited the Golden Hurricane to just 30 percent shooting overall. The hosts shot 48.9 percent from the floor. Charles Ramsdell paced Tulsa with 14 points. The Golden Knights will be playing in Tulsa for the first time since they dropped a 78-48 contest to the Golden Hurricane on Dec. 4, 1989. Tulsa led 28-19 at intermission. Ken Leeks paced UCF with 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The Golden Knights will be playing in Sooner State for only the third time and for the first time since the 1989 meeting with the Golden Hurricane.

About Tulsa: Host Tulsa dropped a 62-57 game on Wednesday to UAB. Darold Crow was the only Tulsa player to record double-figures in scoring (14). The Golden Hurricane are limiting opponents to just 62.9 points per game and foes are shooting 39.5 percent overall versus Tulsa. Rod Earls, who is connecting on Conference USA-best 87.1 percent of his free-throw attempts, leads the team in scoring at 12 points an outing. Ben Uzoh is averaging 10 points and 5.3 boards. Tulsa is 14-3 at home this season.

UCF Last Time Out: Mike O'Donnell scored 13 of his 16 points after halftime as UCF rallied for a 59-56 home win over Southern Miss on Wednesday. The Golden Eagles led 45-38 with 7:41 to play in the contest, but the hosts rallied as Lavell Payne and O'Donnell sparked a 15-3 run. Payne hit seven free throws during the spurt and O'Donnell connected on two triples. Southern Miss had a chance to tie the game as time expired, but Jeremy Wise's 3-point attempt was long. Southern Miss led 26-18 at halftime as UCF shot 29.2 percent overall in the opening period. All five of O'Donnell's made field goals were from deep. Payne totaled 14 points and Josh Peppers scored 12 points and had a team-high nine rebounds. UCF had a season-high nine blocks. Dave Noel and Kenrick Zondervan each had a pair of swats.

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. Both players redshirted in 2005-06.

You Play to Win the Game: UCF has already recorded 20 victories, eclipsing its win total from a year ago. In 2005-06, the Golden Knights went 14-15 overall. UCF has also surpassed its league-win total from last season, when the squad went 7-7 in its first year in Conference USA.

New Kids on the Block: Since joining Conference USA with five other programs prior to last year, UCF has recorded 16 league victories, the second-highest total among the new members. UTEP has posted 17 C-USA wins during the span. Rice (13), Tulsa (12), Marshall (10) and SMU (7) follow UCF. With the move, the Golden Knights faced the biggest increase in competition among the new schools, having previously competed in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Saturday Night Live: The Golden Knights are 10-0 in 2006-07 on Saturday, including a 6-0 mark in Conference USA play. UCF has won four road contests on Saturday. Jermaine Taylor has enjoyed playing on the weekend, averaging a team-high 15.1 points on Saturday. Taylor is shooting 50 percent from the field in those contests.

Feeling it in February: UCF is 5-1 in February this year. In 2005-06, the Golden Knights went 3-5 during the month. UCF is 21-9 in February in the last four seasons.

Peppers Gets Hot: Josh Peppers has been strong offensively in UCF's last seven contests, averaging 16.9 points during the span. He is shooting 52.5 percent overall and 43.8 percent from deep in the Golden Knights' last seven games. Peppers has been UCF's top offensive performer in Conference USA play. He is averaging 14.9 points, good for fifth in the league, in conference games and has had 10 double-digit scoring performances.

Free Falling: In its last five contests, UCF has shot 80.1 percent at the free-throw line. The Golden Knights pace Conference USA, shooting 73.2 percent at the charity stripe. This season, three Golden Knights are in C-USA's top-15. Dave Noel (84.7) is third, Josh Peppers ranks 10th at 76.3 percent, followed by Lavell Payne (11th at 76 percent). In the last five games, Noel is shooting 93.1 percent (27-of-29) from the line and Payne has made 29-of-33 (87.9 percent) of his free-throw attempts.

Taking the Charity: Dave Noel ranks 57th nationally, shooting 84.7 percent at the free-throw line. Last year as a sophomore, he made 74.2 percent of his free-throw attempts. Noel has made 15-consecutive foul shots.

Points Add Up for Peppers: Josh Peppers is seventh all-time at UCF with 1,308 career points. D'Quarius Stewart, who played at the school from 1996-00, is sixth on the scoring register with 1,387 points. 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.

Crashing the Boards: Known more for being a finesse player offensively, Josh Peppers is averaging a career-high 4.3 rebounds this season. He paced UCF with nine rebounds in the win over Southern Miss on Wednesday in Orlando. Peppers had led the Golden Knights on the glass six times this year.

Road Warriors: UCF is 5-5 on the road this year after winning just three road contests in 2005-06. Josh Peppers is averaging a team-high 15.5 points on the road and has scored in double-figures in six of UCF's seven league away contests.

Triple Trouble: The Golden Knights have already connected on 211 3-pointers this season. That mark is good for fourth on UCF's single-season register.

House of Payne: Lavell Payne has been a force inside for the Golden Knights since Conference USA play began in early January. In league games, he is averaging 12.8 points and 5.7 boards while shooting 53.8 percent overall, which ranks fifth in C-USA. In non-league play, the senior from Fort Lauderdale averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting at a 42.4 percent clip.

Payne Makes Gains at the Line: Lavell Payne ranks 11th in Conference USA, connecting on 76 percent of his attempts at the free-throw line. Payne's effort is impressive, considering he shot just 42.9 percent at the charity stripe in 2005-06. Last year, he made just 18-of-42 free-throw attempts.

Target Practice: UCF is tops in Conference USA, shooting 47.5 percent from the floor. The team ranks 33rd nationally. Lavell Payne is 10th in the league, shooting 48.7 percent overall, followed by Jermaine Taylor (11th at 48.6). UCF has shot 50 percent or better from the field 10 times this year and is 9-1 in those contests.

Three the Easy Way: The Golden Knights are shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range this year. The mark is the best in Conference USA and ranks 15th nationally. UCF has two of the most accurate shooters from deep in the conference. Mike O'Donnell is second in the league at 44.4 percent, followed by Jermaine Taylor (42.5) at third. The team ranks second in the league, making 7.81 triples per contest.

Minister of Defense: In addition to showing great improvement on offense, Dave Noel is developing into a defensive stopper for the Golden Knights. A candidate for Conference USA's All-Defensive Team, Noel has proved his strength on the defensive end in UCF's two victories over Rice this season. He spent most of both contests guarding Morris Almond, one of the top scorers in the nation. In the two contests, Noel limited Almond to just 6-of-28 shooting and a 2-of-11 showing from 3-point range. Almond is currently averaging 26.7 points, but averaged just 16.5 points versus UCF.

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 three assists. He is shooting 50.4 percent from the floor and 84.7 percent at the free-throw stripe. In league play, he paces Conference USA, making 89.3 percent of his free-throw attempts.

Peppers from 3-Point Range: In his career at UCF, senior forward Josh Peppers has connected on 172 3-pointers, good for fourth all-time. His 471 3-point field goal attempts rank second at the school.

The Veteran: Josh Peppers has appeared in 118 games while at UCF, good for fourth in program history. The senior forward has played in a pair of NCAA Tournament games at UCF and is on pace to match the school's all-time games played mark of 122.

Peppers At the Line: Josh Peppers is eighth in program history with 242 free throws. Peppers is ninth in school history with 321 free-throw attempts.

MOD From Three: Mike O'Donnell has connected on 111 triples while with the Golden Knights. He ranks 10th all-time at UCF in the category. The junior, who played at NC State as a freshman in 2003-04, has drained 129 3-pointers at the collegiate level.

This Date in UCF History: In 1976, Calvin Lingelbach went 10-of-10 at the free-throw line in UCF's 95-78 home win over Rollins.

Up Next: The Golden Knights host Houston on Wednesday. The Cougars lead the all-time series 3-1 and have won three-straight over UCF. Host Houston rallied from a 22-point second-half deficit to post a 73-70 overtime win over the Golden Knights on Jan. 24, 2007. The comeback spoiled a career-high 26 points from UCF's Lavell Payne. UCF led 35-15 at halftime, but the Cougars outscored UCF 49-29 in the second half. Robert McKiver totaled a game-high 36 points in the win. In their meeting in Orlando a year ago, the Cougars topped the Golden Knights, 78-71, on Feb. 15, 2006.