Knights to Host UConn on Friday

Dec. 27, 2007

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - One of the nation's top programs will visit the new UCF Arena on Friday evening when the UCF men's basketball team hosts Connecticut. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

The Knights (5-5) will be playing for the first time in 11 days. In its first campaign at the new UCF Arena, the Knights are 4-1 at the facility.

Connecticut is 8-2 on the season and will be playing a true road contest for the first time in 2007-08. Both of the team's losses this season have come against nationally-ranked squads on neutral courts. The Huskies are traditionally one of the country's top programs. In 2004, Connecticut claimed the national championship.

Tickets for the game are available at all Ticketmaster outlets or at the UCF box office at Bright House Networks Stadium. On gameday, tickets can be purchased at the new UCF Arena.

The contest is part of a special holiday ticket package that the UCF Athletics Association is offering. For $25, fans will receive tickets to the Connecticut game, plus tickets to both of the Knights' contests at the UCF Holiday Classic (Dec. 30-31).

Fans should call 407-UCF-1000 to purchase the ticket package.

UCF students are admitted free to all home games with a valid school ID. SunTrust is serving as the game's presenting sponsor. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a complimentary UCF rally towel courtesy of the bank.

The game will be broadcast live nationally on CSTV. Carter Blackburn will handle the play-by-play duties and Pete Gillen will provide color commentary.

UCF-Connecticut will also air on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 The Team AM in Orlando. Scott Adams will have the call and will be joined by former UCF player Troy Lindbeck on the broadcast.

Live statistics and audio will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.

? Kirk Speraw (Iowa, 1980) is in his 15th season as UCF's head coach. He owns a 236-192 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 318-213 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Connecticut is led by Jim Calhoun (American International, 1968), who is 510-193 in his 21st year at Connecticut. He is 758-330 in his 35th season as a head coach.

? UCF and the Huskies will be meeting for the second time. The squads played in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament in Worcester, Mass., and the second-seeded Huskies held on for a 77-71 win.
? Connecticut led by as many as 19 points in the second half, but UCF refused to go down. Behind 29 points and seven 3-pointers from Gary Johnson, the Knights cut the lead to six with 3:30 in the game, but the Huskies responded, getting back-to-back baskets in the paint to push their edge back to 10.
? Will Bakanowsky added 15 points and seven boards for UCF. Charlie Villanueva paced Connecticut with 22 points. ? No current UCF players were in action against the Huskies in 2005. Dave Noel and Mike O'Donnell both sat out the 2004-05 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules.
? All-time, UCF is 4-25 against current BIG EAST programs. The Knights have not hosted a BIG EAST squad in Orlando since Dec. 27, 2002, when they hosted Miami, which was a member of the league at that time.

? Connecticut has posted three-straight wins, most recently a 105-60 victory over visiting Maine on Saturday. Stanley Robinson scored 32 points against the Black Bears.
? The Huskies boast a +17 scoring margin this season. Connecticut is first nationally in blocks per game, averaging 9.4 a contest. The team paces the BIG EAST in rebounds per game (48.2).
? Five Huskies are averaging double-digits in scoring, led by Jerome Dyson at 14.1. Jeff Adrien is averaging 13.3 points and 9.0 boards. Hasheem Thabeet is averaging 3.4 blocks per game.
? Opponents are shooting just 35.3 percent overall against Connecticut this year. The contest at UCF will serve as the Huskies first road game of the season.

? The Knights will return to action almost immediately after playing Connecticut, hosting the four-team UCF Holiday Classic. UCF opens the two-day tournament on Sunday versus New Jersey Tech. Long Island and Texas-Pan Am are also participating in the event.

? Despite a career-high 27 points from Jermaine Taylor, the Knights fell 86-74 at Nevada on Dec. 16. Taylor drained five 3-pointers in the game and Dave Noel added a career-best 20 points for UCF.
? The Wolf Pack made 31-of-41 free-throw attempts and finished the contest with a 47-28 edge on the glass. The squads were meeting for the second time this season as the Knights opened the year with a 63-60 win over Nevada on Nov. 11 in the inaugural game at the new UCF Arena.

? Five of UCF's first nine opponents in 2007-08 participated in the postseason a year ago. The Knights have already faced Nevada (NCAA - twice), Villanova (NCAA), Kansas State (NIT) and Ole Miss (NIT) this year.
? Villanova (No. 19) and Kansas State (No. 18) were both ranked when meeting the Knights. Nevada (Nov. 11) and Ole Miss were both garnering votes in national polls when those squads played UCF.
? Ten games into the season, UCF has already faced a pair of BIG EAST programs (Villanova, USF) and teams from the Big Ten (Penn State), Big 12 (Kansas State) and SEC (Ole Miss).

? The five squads that UCF has lost to this season are a combined 43-12 this season, through games of Dec. 26. Ole Miss (11-0), Villanova (9-1), Kansas State (8-3), USF (8-4) and Nevada (7-4) all boast winning records.
? UCF's losses this season have come by an average of 7.8 points.
? Two of the squad's defeats have come on the road and two were on a neutral court.

? The contest with Connecticut will serve as the Knights' third game this season against a BIG EAST program. UCF met No. 19 Villanova at the Old Spice Classic in November and faced host USF on Dec. 1.
? Prior to this campaign, UCF's matchup with Connecticut in 2005 was the Knights' last contest with a BIG EAST squad.

? UCF has already faced a pair of teams with impressive legacies this season and Connecticut will add to the list. At the Old Spice Classic, the Knights met Kansas State (four Final Four appearances) and Villanova (one national title). Connecticut has won a pair of national championships.

? UCF had 11 days without a contest before facing Connecticut, but will now start a stretch of three games in four days. After facing the Huskies, the Knights will begin the UCF Holiday Classic on Sunday against NJIT. The squad will conclude the event on Monday versus Long Island or Texas-Pan Am.
? The Knights are familiar with busy stretches. Last December, the team played three games in three days at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.

? UCF is off to a 4-1 start in its first campaign at the new UCF Arena, continuing an impressive trend in Orlando. The Knights have won 10 of their last 11 games at home.
? Since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Knights are 53-11 at home.

? A school-record 5,574 fans were on hand at the new UCF Arena to watch the Knights face Ole Miss on Dec. 8. UCF has played five contests at the new facility and four of the top six crowds in school history have already been recorded.
? UCF is currently averaging 4,771 fans per contest. In 2006-07, the Knights boasted a school-record 2,706 fans a game at the old UCF Arena. The program played at the facility from 1991-07.

? UCF's 2007-08 home attendance average of 4,771 ranks third among the 13 schools in Florida that sponsor Divsion I basketball. The Knights trail only Florida (10,666) and Florida State (7,711).
? The Knights are averaging more fans per game than USF (3,530) and Miami (2,414).

? Starting for the first time in his collegiate career, Jermaine Taylor paces UCF and ranks fifth in Conference USA in scoring at 18.6 points per game. Last season, the junior came off of the bench in all 31 of UCF's games and was second on the team in scoring (12.7).
? In the Knights' last outing at Nevada on Dec. 16, he poured in a career-high 27 points. Taylor drained five 3-pointers against the Wolf Pack.
? Taylor has six 20-point performances in 2007-08 and 18 for his career.

? Jermaine Taylor has led the Knights in scoring in seven-straight contests. In 2006-07, a single player did not pace the team in points for more than two-consecutive games.
? No Knight has led the team in scoring for more than seven-straight contests since 1997-98, when Mark Jones was the leader eight games in a row.

? Considered UCF's defensive stopper on the perimeter, Dave Noel is exhibiting a well-rounded game as a senior this year. The shooting guard is second on the squad in points per game (12.7).
? Noel recorded a career-best 20 points at Nevada on Dec. 16. He is shooting 51.7 percent from the floor in 2007-08 and is tied for second on the team in rebounds, averaging 5.3 per outing.
? Last year, Noel played off the ball for the first time at UCF and averaged 9.1 points. In 2005-06, Noel made his debut at UCF after transferring from UNC-Wilmington and averaged 2.8 points as a backup point guard.

? UCF's starting lineup features three guards - Dave Noel, Mike O'Donnell and Jermaine Taylor. The trio has combined to score 60.3 percent of the Knights' points this year.
? The three perimeter players are averaging a combined 42.4 points per game and have made 59 of UCF's 69 3-pointers in 2007-08.

? Three Knights - Mike O'Donnell (35.1), Jermaine Taylor (32.6) and Dave Noel (32.5) - are averaging over 32 minutes per contest. A year ago, no Knight averaged more than 31 minutes a game.
? O'Donnell ranks second in Conference USA in minutes per game.
? The senior guard has logged over 35 minutes five times this season. In the Knights' overtime contest with No. 18 Kansas State at the Old Spice Classic in November, O'Donnell played a career-high 43 minutes.

? In just his third season in Orlando after transferring from NC State, Mike O'Donnell is making his mark in the UCF record book. He is currently listed in four career statistical categories: 3-point field goals (145-7th), 3-point field goal attempts (365-8th), 3-point field goal percentage (.397-4th) and assists (259-7th).
? O'Donnell has started 70-consecutive games for the Knights and has not missed a game or a start during his time at UCF.

? On Dec. 14, Mike O'Donnell earned his bachelor's degree from UCF in interpersonal/organizational communications. The senior point guard was unable to make the commencement ceremony as the Knights were traveling west for their contest at Nevada that day.

? Tony Davis has excelled as UCF's first post player off of the bench this year. He is averaging 7.0 points and a team-best 5.9 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per contest.
? The 2005-06 Florida Class 6A Player of the Year at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Davis averaged 2.8 points and 3.8 boards in 13.3 minutes per contest as a rookie last season.

? Dating back to the start of last season, UCF has enjoyed great continuity in its starting lineup. This year, head coach Kirk Speraw has used the same linuep - Mike O'Donnell, Dave Noel, Jermaine Taylor, Kenrick Zondervan and Stanley Billings - each game.
? A year ago, O'Donnell, Noel, Josh Peppers, Lavell Payne and Zondervan started together for 30 of UCF's 31 games. On senior night, Zondervan was replaced in the starting five by Adam Gill.