Men's Basketball to Honor Seniors, Close the Arena on Saturday

March 2, 2007

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will conclude its regular season on Saturday, hosting East Carolina at the UCF Arena at 7:30 p.m. The Golden Knights (21-8, 10-5 Conference USA) have already clinched second place in the C-USA standings and have earned a first-round bye at the conference championship, which begins next week in Memphis, Tenn.

The contest will serve as the program's final game at the UCF Arena. UCF will move into the new Convocation Center on campus next year. The program has called the arena home since the 1991-92 campaign.

The Golden Knights are 14-1 at home in 2006-07. East Carolina enters the contest 6-22 overall and 1-14 in league play.

Prior to the game, UCF will honor seniors Adam Gill, Lavell Payne and Josh Peppers, who will all be playing at home for the final time.

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. At halftime, one fan will be selected to participate in the "Get Coke Cash Crazy" in-game promotion. The fan, who will participate in a shooting contest, will have a shot at winning $10,000. The promotion is sponsored by Coca-Cola.

The UCF Student Government Association will select a student who exhibits the most school spirit as its "Fan of the Game." The student will receive a $250 scholarship.

Tickets for the game are available by visiting www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 407-839-3900. All UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

UCF-East Carolina 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 Knights lead the all-time series, 6-0, and have won all four matchups with East Carolina since UCF joined Conference USA prior to last season. The squads will be meeting in Orlando for the second time. The teams played earlier this year and Josh Peppers scored 24 points to lift the visiting Golden Knights to a 67-49 win on Feb. 7. Peppers shot 9-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from deep. His .900 shooting percentage was good for third on the Conference USA all-time single-game register. Jermaine Taylor added 17 points in the victory. Courtney Captain paced the Pirates with 15 points. In four contests versus East Carolina, Peppers is averaging 18.5 points. He has connected on 14 3-pointers against the Pirates. The Golden Knights have claimed four-straight regular-season finales.

About East Carolina: Despite 17 points from Courtney Captain and 15 points from Darrell Jenkins, the Pirates fell 88-72 at Tulane on Wednesday. On Feb. 24, host East Carolina snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 79-78 victory over UTEP. Jenkins is tops on the team, averaging 12.6 points and a Conference USA-best 5.64 assists. Gabe Blair leads East Carolina on the glass (6.9 rebounds per game). The Pirates are last in the league in scoring (59.5) and are limiting their opponents to 67.2 points an outing.

UCF Last Time Out: Five Golden Knights finished with double-digits in scoring as UCF defeated Houston, 75-72, in overtime on Wednesday in Orlando. Jermaine Taylor paced the Golden Knights with 20 points. Houston's Robert McKiver had a chance to send the contest into a second overtime, but his off-balance three-point attempt at the buzzer did not fall. UCF won despite committing 26 turnovers. The Golden Knights shot 51 percent overall and held a 40-28 edge on the glass.

It Takes Two: With its victory over Houston on Wednesday, UCF clinched second-place in the Conference USA regular-season standings. As a result of their top-four finish in the league, the Golden Knights have earned a first-round bye at the C-USA Championship, which begins on Wednesday, March 7 in Memphis, Tenn. The team will face the winner of the No. 7/No. 10 game on Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Moving On Up: UCF proved Conference USA's head coaches wrong, as the group selected the Golden Knights seventh in the 2006-07 league preseason poll. The Golden Knights have secured second place in the conference standings.

Closing Time: The contest with East Carolina will serve as the Golden Knights' final game at the UCF Arena. The program will move into the new Convocation Center on campus next fall. All-time, UCF is 142-81 at the venue. The Golden Knights are 10-4 against Conference USA opponents in the arena.

20/20/20/20: With its victory over Southern Miss on Feb. 21, UCF posted its 20th win of the season. The Golden Knights have recorded 20-victory campaigns in four of the last five years. UCF has averaged 20 victories in the last six years.

You Play to Win the Game: UCF has already recorded 21 victories this season, easily 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 17 league victories, which ties for the highest total among he new members. UTEP has also posted 17 C-USA wins during the span. Rice (14), Tulsa (14), Marshall (11) 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.

Happy at Home: UCF will be seeking its 15th home of the year when it faces East Carolina, which would establish a new school single-season record. The Golden Knights are 14-1 at home this season. They boast a +14.4 scoring margin at home. In the last four years, UCF is 48-10 in Orlando.

Full House: A school record 39,571 fans have attended UCF home contests this year. The Golden Knights are averaging 2,638 spectators in 2006-07, after averaging 1,541 last season. Three of the top-five and six of the top-15 crowds in school history have been recorded this year and a UCF-record 4,805 fans watched the Golden Knights host No. 11 Memphis on Jan. 31.

UCF-East Carolina Connections: East Carolina junior guard Cory Farmer and the Golden Knights' Lavell Payne were teammates at Tallahassee Community College during the 2004-05 campaign.

Memorable Win: The victory over Houston on Wednesday gave Kirk Speraw his 230th win at UCF. Speraw ranks second in school history in victories behind Torchy Clark, who claimed 274 wins from 1969-83.

Extra Sessions: UCF posted its second overtime win of the year with its win over Houston on Wednesday. The Golden Knights were playing in overtime for the fifth time in 2006-07 after not having an extra session contest a year ago. The contest with Houston served as UCF's second-straight overtime game. The pair of games marked the first time that the Golden Knights played back-to-back overtime games since the 2001-02 season.

Close Calls: The Golden Knights' last three games have been decided by a total of nine points. UCF is 2-1 during the span, posting victories over Southern Miss (59-56) and Houston (75-72 in overtime). The squad's loss came in overtime at Tulsa, 66-64. The Golden Knights are 5-2 in contests decided by five points of less in 2006-07.

Nice Recovery: Since falling to 11th-ranked Memphis on Jan. 31, UCF is 6-2. Four of those victories have come at home.

Peppers Gets Hot: Josh Peppers has been UCF's leader offensively in Conference USA play. He ranks seventh in league action in scoring, averaging 14.6 points. He has recorded 12 double-digit scoring performances in C-USA games. In non-league play, he averaged 12.9 points this year.

Points Add Up for Peppers: Josh Peppers is seventh all-time at UCF with 1,333 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.

Target Practice: UCF is tops in Conference USA, shooting 47.2 percent from the floor. The team ranks 50th nationally. Jermaine Taylor is 10th in the league at 49.3 percent and Lavell Payne ranks 13th (47.4).

Triple Trouble: The Golden Knights have already connected on 224 3-pointers this season. That mark is good for fourth on UCF's single-season register.

Three the Easy Way: The Golden Knights are shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range this year. The mark is the best in Conference USA and ranks 21st nationally. UCF has two of the most accurate shooters from deep in the conference. Mike O'Donnell is second in the league at 43.4 percent, followed by Jermaine Taylor (42.8) at third.

Major Payne: Lavell Payne has scored 14 points in each of UCF's last three games. In the team's last six games, he is averaging 16 points and 6.2 boards.

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 13 points and 5.8 boards while shooting 50.8 percent overall, which ranks sixth 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.

Free Falling: A year after shooting just 64.3 percent at the charity stripe, the Golden Knights pace Conference USA in free-throw percentage (73.1). This season, three UCF players are in C-USA's top-15 in the category. Dave Noel (84.9) is third, Josh Peppers ranks 10th at 76.4 and Lavell Payne is 12th (74.5). The Golden Knights have hit 480 free throws this year, which ranks fifth on the school's single-season register.

Taking the Charity: Dave Noel ranks 57th nationally, shooting 84.9 percent at the free-throw line. Against league opponents, he is shooting a conference-best 89.2 percent at the line. Last year as a sophomore, Noel made 74.2 percent of his free-throw attempts.

Payne Makes Gains at the Line: Lavell Payne ranks 12th in Conference USA, connecting on 74.5 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.

Offensive Improvement: Last season, UCF scored more than 70 points in a contest only five times. In 2006-07, the Golden Knights have scored at least 70 points 18 times. After averaging just 63.3 points per game last season, the Golden Knights are scoring 73.4 points per contest this year. The squad eclipsed the 80-point mark only once a year ago, but has already scored at least 80 points in a game on eight occasions this season. UCF owns a +7.8 scoring margin.

Double Up: In 2005-06, two Golden Knights finished the campaign averaging double-figures in scoring - Josh Peppers (13.7) and Justin Rose (10.5). Four UCF players are currently scoring over 10 points a contest. Josh Peppers (13.8), Jermaine Taylor (13.4), Lavell Payne (10.8) and Mike O'Donnell (10.2) are all averaging double-digits in points this year.

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 26.5 points, but averaged just 16.5 points versus UCF.

This Date in UCF History: In 2000, UCF defeated Mercer in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Championship in Jacksonville, 84-79. D'Quarius Stewart paced the Golden Knights with 28 points. Four other Golden Knights scored in double figures.