Men's Basketball Opens C-USA Homestand Against UAB

Jan. 29, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team is off to a 4-1 start in Conference USA play this year and opens a three-game league homestand on Wednesday with a contest against UAB. Tip-off at the new UCF Arena is slated for 7 p.m.

In their first campaign at the new arena, the Knights are 8-2 at home in 2007-08. On the year, the squad is 11-8 overall.

The game will feature two of the nation's premier scorers. UCF junior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) is 19th nationally, averaging 21.2 points. The Blazers (13-6, 3-1) are led by Robert Vaden. The Indiana transfer is also averaging 21.2 points per game and ranks 17th in the nation in the category.

Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and at the UCF Ticket Office at Bright House Networks Stadium. On gameday, tickets can be purchased at the new UCF Arena.

The Knights have six home games remaining this year and the UCF Athletics Association is offering a pair of ticket deals. The C-USA Pack includes tickets to the remaining contests, which are all against C-USA foes, for $90.

The 3-Point Pack provides fans with tickets to games against UAB (Jan. 30), Houston (Feb. 2) and Rice (March 1) for $39. That package also includes a ticket to the UCF women's game versus East Carolina prior to the men's contest on Feb. 2.

Call 407-UCF-1000 to learn more about the ticket packages.

Students are admitted free to all home games with a valid school ID.

The game will be aired on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will handle the play-by-play duties and will be joined by former UCF guard Troy Lindbeck, who will provide color commentary. Scott Adams will serve as a reporter during the radio broadcast.

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

? Kirk Speraw (Iowa, 1980) is in his 15th season as UCF's head coach. He owns a 242-195 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 324-216 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Mike Davis (Thomas Edison, 2000) is in his second season with the Blazers (28-22). He has a 143-101 mark in eight years as a head coach.

? The Blazers have a 2-0 edge in the all-time series. The teams will be meeting in Orlando for the second time.
? A year ago in Birmingham, the Blazers posted a 74-64 win over the Knights in overtime. Josh Peppers paced the Knights with 20 points. In two contests against UAB, Mike O'Donnell is averaging 12.0 points and 5.0 assists.

? The Blazers, who were picked to finish tied for second in the Conference USA preseason coaches' poll, have won five of their last six games. The squad has not played since Jan. 23, when it picked up a 77-59 win over East Carolina behind 20 points from Robert Vaden.
? One of the top offensive players in the nation, Vaden ranks second in C-USA in points per game (21.2). He is connecting on 4.5 3-pointers a contest, which leads the country.
? UAB is second in C-USA in scoring defense, limiting opponents to just 61.6 points per game.

? UCF hosts Houston on Saturday evening. The Cougars have a 3-2 edge in the all-time series and each team has won a contest in Orlando.
? A year ago in the matchup in Orlando, the Knights clinched second place in Conference USA with a 75-72 overtime win over the Cougars on Feb. 28, 2007. Jermaine Taylor paced the Knights with 20 points off of the bench in the win.

? Despite a team-high 26 points from Jermaine Taylor, UCF fell 69-67 in overtime at SMU on Saturday. The Knights led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but the Mustangs rallied behind a career-high 28 points and seven 3-pointers from Jon Killen.
? Taylor connected on five 3-pointers, including one with 12 seconds remaining in regulation that sent the contest into overtime.

? Since joining Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign, the Knights have won 22 league contests, a mark that is tied for third among the 12 C-USA programs during that span. Memphis has won 34 C-USA games in the last three years, followed by Houston (23). UCF and UAB both have 22 league victories during the span.
? UCF entered C-USA with five other programs. Besides the Knights, UTEP (20) and Tulsa (16) have posted the most league victories among the new members.
? With the move to C-USA, the Knights have faced the biggest increase in competition among the new schools, having previously competed in the Atlantic Sun. In 2006-07, UCF went 11-5 in C-USA play to finish second in the 12-team league.

? UCF's eight losses this year have come by an average of 5.8 points. Four of the losses were by three points or less and three defeats have come in overtime.
? The Knights fell to No. 18 Kansas State and traditional power Connecticut by a combined five points.

? UCF boasts Conference USA's best offense in league games. The Knights are averaging a conference-best 79.2 points in C-USA contests. The team is averaging 73.6 points on the season.
? The Knights have scored over 90 points in two league games in 2007-08. A year ago, the squad did not eclipse the 80-point mark in C-USA play.
? Against league foes, UCF is shooting 48.2 percent overall, which ranks first in the conference. The team also paces C-USA in assists per game (15.8) in conference contests.

? In the Knights' first campaign at the new UCF Arena, seven of the top-nine single-game attendance totals in program history have already been recorded. A school record 7,097 fans watched UCF defeat Tulsa on Jan. 12.
? UCF has played 10 home games and a school-record 48,888 fans have attended the contests for an average of 4,888. A year ago, a then-school record 43,296 fans watched the Knights in 16 home contests at the old UCF Arena.
? Among the 13 schools in Florida that sponsor Division I basketball, UCF's attendance average of 4,888 ranks third behind only Florida (11,004) and Florida State (7,944). The Knights are drawing more fans than USF of the BIG EAST (4,718) and Miami of the ACC (3,536).

? Off to an 8-2 start in its first campaign at the new UCF Arena, UCF is enjoying playing at home in 2007-08. The Knights are averaging 80.1 points in Orlando, compared to 64.8 on the road.
? Inside the new UCF Arena, the Knights are shooting 48.2 percent overall. In away games, the team is shooting at a 40.8 percent clip.

? The contest with UAB begins a three-game homestand for the Knights. UCF has not played three-consecutive Conference USA games in Orlando since joining the league prior to the 2005-06 campaign.
? The Knights last three-game conference homestand came during the 2001-02 season when they hosted Stetson, Campbell and Georgia State in Atlantic Sun play.

? UCF is 11-1 when leading at halftime in 2007-08. In the last two years, the squad is 28-5 when taking an advantage into intermission.

? UCF is starting three guards in 2007-08 and the trio of perimeter players - Mike O'Donnell, Dave Noel and Jermaine Taylor - have accounted for 61.3 percent of the Knights' points. Taylor (21.2) paces the Knights in scoring, followed by Noel (13.1) and O'Donnell (10.8).
? The three players have combined to make 121 of UCF's 138 3-pointers this season.

? Entering UCF's Conference USA season opener on Jan. 8 at Southern Miss, Mike O'Donnell was shooting 32.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep. O'Donnell has turned things around in C-USA play.
? Against conference opponents, he is shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from 3-point range.
? O'Donnell is averaging 12.4 points in C-USA games and 10.8 points on the year.

? UCF's non-conference schedule in 2007-08 was the toughest in school history. Five of UCF's first eight foes participated in the postseason a year ago. The Knights faced Nevada (NCAA - twice), Villanova (NCAA), Kansas State (NIT) and Ole Miss (NIT) this year in non-conference play.
? Villanova (No. 19) and Kansas State (No. 18) were both ranked when meeting the Knights. Nevada (Nov. 11), Ole Miss and Sam Houston State were all garnering votes in national polls when those squads played UCF.
? In non-league play, UCF faced three BIG EAST programs (Villanova, USF, Connecticut) and teams from the Big Ten (Penn State), Big 12 (Kansas State) and SEC (Ole Miss).
? Seven of the Knights' non-league opponents are currently in the top-85 on www.realtimerpi.com, including three in the top-40: Ole Miss (16), Connecticut (23) and Kansas State (39).

? Known as UCF's defensive stopper, Dave Noel has shown a well-rounded game in 2007-08. The senior shooting guard is averaging 13.1 points, which ranks second on the squad and 12th in the conference.
? He is shooting 50.9 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from 3-point range. In league games, he is averaging 13.1 points.
? A year ago, Noel averaged 9.1 points. In his first campaign with the Knights after transferring from UNC-Wilmington, Noel totaled 2.8 points per game as the team's backup point guard in 2005-06.

? Averaging 1.8 steals per game, Mike O'Donnell is currently second in Conference USA in the category. O'Donnell has 34 steals on the year. He paced the Knights in steals last season with 48.

? Three Knights are logging major minutes in 2007-08. In Conference USA play, Dave Noel is second in the league in minutes per game at 36.0. Mike O'Donnell (35.2) is third, followed by Jermaine Taylor (35.0).
? On the year, O'Donnell is averaging a team-high 34.6 minutes. He has logged 35 or more minutes on 11 occasions in 2007-08.

? Tony Davis has shown great improvement as one of UCF's main post players in 2007-08. He has made a pair of starts on the year and is averaging 7.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds. The forward, who recorded a career-best 16 points in the win over UTEP on Jan. 23, has registered 128 points in 17 contests this season.
? In 2006-07 as a freshman, Davis appeared in all 31 of UCF's games and totaled just 89 points for a 2.3 average.

? 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 five career statistical categories: 3-point field goals (165-6th), 3-point field goal attempts (422-6th), 3-point field goal percentage (.391-8th), assists (289-7th) and steals (127-9th).

? Chip Cartwright is sixth in Conference USA in assists per game (4.2). He has totaled 79 assists on the year. Last season, in his first campaign with the Knights after transferring from Angelina College, he recorded 46 assists in 24 games.
? In C-USA play, the Houston native is averaging 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds, which is notable because Cartwright is listed at 6-feet tall.

? In his third campaign with the Knights, Dave Noel ranks second in program history in free-throw percentage, shooting at an 83.5 percent clip. Cleveland Jackson (1977-79) is the school's leader in the category at 83.8 percent.
? This year, Noel is fourth in Conference USA and 68th in the nation, shooting 84.0 percent from the line. In league play, he is 10-of-23 (87.0) at the charity stripe.

Jermaine Taylor NOTABLES

? Jermaine Taylor is third in Conference USA and is 19th nationally in scoring, averaging 21.2 points per game. The junior has paced the Knights in points in 16 of UCF's 19 games this season and has scored at least 20 points on 14 occasions.

? Jermaine Taylor is averaging a league-high 24.6 points in Conference USA games. Against league foes, Taylor is shooting 53.7 percent overall, 44.1 percent from deep and 83.3 at the free-throw line.
? His field-goal percentage ranks seventh in C-USA, while his 3-point field-goal percentage is 10th and his free-throw percentage is eighth.
? The junior has exhibited his all-around game in league play as well, averaging 6.2 boards, which ranks 11th. On the defensive end in conference games, he is averaging 2.0 steals, which ties him for fourth in the league.

? Not only does Jermaine Taylor ranks 19th nationally in scoring, he is tops among all players in Florida as well. Thirteen schools in Florida sponsor Division I basketball and Taylor's average is first among all players from those programs. Kentrel Gransberry (17.1) of USF is second in scoring in the Sunshine State.

? Following his 24-point performance in just 22 minutes against UTEP on Jan. 23, Jermaine Taylor was named one of three "Big Men On Campus" during ESPN's College GameNight. Taylor made 9-of-12 field goals in the win over the Miners and hit three 3-pointers.

? The Knights have played two Conference USA games at home in 2007-08 and Jermaine Taylor is averaging 26.0 points against league foes in Orlando. He is shooting 60 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point range in C-USA home games.

30-30 CLUB
? Prior to this season, a Knight had not recorded 30 or more points in a game since the 2004-05 campaign. Jermaine Taylor has achieved the feat twice this season.
? Most recently, he dropped a career-best 32 points at East Carolina on Jan. 19. Facing Connecticut on Dec. 28, he led all players with a then career-high 30 points.

? Jermaine Taylor has garnered a pair of Conference USA Player of the Week honors this season. After leading the Knights to a 2-0 start in C-USA play, Taylor won the award on Jan. 14. He averaged 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in a pair of contests.
? In the Knights' 97-91 triple-overtime victory over Tulsa, Taylor played a career-high 49 minutes and led all players with 28 points. He also paced UCF with nine boards.
? On Dec. 31, he was named the C-USA Player of the Week for the first time in his career. He earned the award after averaging 25.2 points in a pair of games.
? Taylor is the first Knight to earn conference player of the week honors on two occasions in the same season since 1998-99 when Brad Traina claimed a pair of Atlantic Sun awards.

? In 31 contests last season, Jermaine Taylor totaled 395 points. Through 19 games in 2007-08, he has already scored 402 points. ? Each season at UCF, Taylor has shown great improvement on the court. In 2006-07, he averaged 12.7 points. As a freshman the previous season, Taylor averaged 4.3 points in 11.7 minutes per game. He shot just 39.5 percent overall and 30.4 percent from 3-point range as a rookie.

? Jermaine Taylor is 11th in Conference USA, shooting 78.6 percent from the free-throw line. In UCF's win at East Carolina on Jan. 19, he went 8-of-8 from the charity stripe, with all of the attempts coming in the final seven minutes of the contest.
? His success at the free-throw line is impressive, considering he entered the year as a 64.4 percent shooter. In 2005-06, he went 71.1 at the line. As a freshman, Taylor made just 17-of-56 (30.4 percent) of his attempts.

? In just his third campaign with the Knights, Jermaine Taylor already ranks eighth all-time at UCF with 132 career 3-pointers. Ironically, his first cousin, Darryl Davis, is ninth on the school's all-time treys list. Davis played for the Knights from 1991-95 and connected on 129 triples.
? Taylor's ascension to the career list is impressive, considering he only hit 17 triples as a freshman in 2005-06.