Knights to Begin Tough Road Swing Saturday

Jan. 4, 2008

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will begin a difficult two-game road swing on Saturday, facing Sam Houston State in Texas. Tip-off at the Johnson Coliseum is set for 3 p.m. Eastern.

UCF (7-6) has won two-consecutive contests. The contest at Sam Houston State will serve as the Knights' final non-conference game of the season.

The Bearkats are 11-1 in 2007-08, including an 8-0 mark at home. Sam Houston State is currently garnering a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The team boasts the second-longest non-conference home winning streak in the nation at 43 games.

After facing Sam Houston State, UCF will remain on the road and play host Southern Miss on Tuesday in the Conference USA opener for both squads.

The contest at Sam Houston State will be broadcast live on the UCF ISP Sports Network and its flagship station, 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels' call of the game will also be available at www.ucfathletics.com.

? Kirk Speraw (Iowa, 1980) is in his 15th season as UCF's head coach. He owns a 238-193 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 320-214 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Bob Marlin (Mississippi State, 1981) is 170-104 in his 10th season with the Bearkats. He is 293-139 in 15 years as a head coach.

? UCF and Sam Houston State will be meeting for the second time. The squads played on Dec. 21, 2005, in the consolation game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The Bearkats held on for a 68-63 victory.
? Justin Rose paced the Knights with 24 points. In 12 minutes off of the bench, Dave Noel dished out a game-high six assists for UCF. Chris Jordan led Sam Houston State with 17 points.

? The Bearkats have been one of the nation's top teams in 2007-08. Sam Houston State began the campaign 11-0 and is currently receiving one vote in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
? The team has several impressive wins so far this season, including victories over Texas Tech and Saint Louis.
? Sam Houston State is 8-0 at home this year and own's the nation's second-longest non-conference home winning streak at 43 games. The Bearkats have not lost at home to a non-league foe since the 1998-99 campaign.
? This season, the Bearkats are limiting their foes to just 57.4 points per game on 36.4 percent shooting from the floor. Shamir McDaniel (13.7 ppg) is the team's top scorer.

? UCF begins Conference USA play on Tuesday at Southern Miss. The all-time series with the Golden Eagles is tied, 1-1. Each team has won at home.
? The contest at Southern Miss will mark the second-straight year that the Knights have opened C-USA play away from Orlando.

? The Knights claimed the UCF Holiday Classic on Monday, posting a 78-69 victory over Long Island. Tournament MVP Jermaine Taylor scored a game-high 20 points in the win and Dave Noel, who garnered a spot on the all-tournament team, chipped in with 13 points and seven assists.

? Sam Houston State head coach Bob Marlin served as the head coach at Pensacola Junior College from 1990-95, where he followed Kirk Speraw. Speraw left PJC in 1990 to work as an assistant coach at Florida.

? UCF's game at Sam Houston State will serve as the Knights' seventh contest in the state of Texas since the start of the 2005-06 season. Head coach Kirk Speraw's squad played Conference USA games at Houston, Rice and UTEP a year ago.
? In 2005-06, the Knights faced Houston, Rice and SMU in Texas. This year in Conference USA play, the team again is slated to visit Houston, Rice and SMU.

? The Sam Houston State game will mark the Knights' second and final non-conference game outside of Florida this season. In 2006-07, UCF made three trips outside of Florida before opening Conference USA play. Twelve of the Knights' first 13 contests this season were played in Florida.

? The contest at Sam Houston State will serve as a homecoming for UCF senior guard Chip Cartwright. A Houston native, Cartwright will have two more opportunities to compete close to home this season as the Knights are scheduled to play at Houston and Rice in Conference USA play.

? Although UCF is used to playing Conference USA games in Texas, these Knights are not familiar with non-league games in the Lone Star State. UCF's last non-conference contest in Texas occurred in 1978 when the program headed to El Paso to face UTEP.

? UCF's 2007-08 schedule is without a doubt the toughest in program history. Five of UCF's first eight 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.
? Thirteen games into the season, UCF has already faced three BIG EAST programs (Villanova, USF, Connecticut) and teams from the Big Ten (Penn State), Big 12 (Kansas State) and SEC (Ole Miss).

? UCF's six losses this year have come by an average of seven points. Two of those contests were decided by three or fewer points.
? The Knights fell to No. 18 Kansas State and traditional power Connecticut by a combined five points.

? In a 65-52 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 11, UCF committed a season-high 21 turnovers. In the four games following that contest, the Knights averaged just 10.8 giveaways per game.
? In a pair of contests at the UCF Holiday Classic (Dec. 30-31), the Knights committed just 18 turnovers. The squad had a season-low eight turnovers in the win over Long Island on Monday.

? On Monday, Jermaine Taylor was named the Conference USA Player of the Week. He averaged 25.2 points in a pair of games for the Knights.
? Against Connecticut, he scored a career-high 30 points, including an 8-of-9 performance at the free-throw line. He scored a game-high 21 points in just 18 minutes in UCF's win over NJIT. He shot 50 percent floor and 56 percent from 3-point range (9-of-16) on the week.
? Taylor became just the second Knight to garner C-USA Player of the Week honors. Josh Peppers earned the award on Feb. 12, 2007.

? Jermaine Taylor has paced the Knights in scoring in 10-straight contests. On the season, he is averaging a team-high 19.8 points. Taylor has scored at least 20 points in four-straight games and has nine 20-point performances in 2007-08.
? He has scored at least 18 points in 10-consecutive contests.

? Each season at UCF, Jermaine Taylor has shown great improvement on the court. This year, the junior is one of Conference USA's top players, averaging 19.8 points and 4.6 rebounds.
? In 2006-07, he came off of the bench in all 31 of UCF's games and averaged 12.7 points and 3.2 rebounds. 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.

? In just his third campaign with the Knights, Jermaine Taylor already ranks 10th all-time at UCF with 113 career 3-pointers. His former teammate Troy Lindbeck (2002-06) is ninth with 120 treys.
? Taylor's ascension to the career list is impressive, considering he only hit 17 triples as a freshman in 2005-06.

? In 31 games last year, Jermaine Taylor made 76 trips to the free-throw line, hitting 54 foul shots. Through 13 contests in 2007-08, Taylor has already been to the charity stripe 60 times. He is 46-of-60 (76.7) at the line this season.

? UCF has played just two road games in 2007-08, but Jermaine Taylor has enjoyed his time away from Orlando. He is averaging 23.5 points away from Orlando.
? At USF on Dec. 1, Taylor totaled 20 points. In the Knights' other road game, he scored a then-career-high 27 points at Nevada on Dec. 16.

? 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 59.4 percent of the Knights' points. Taylor (19.8) paces the Knights in scoring, followed by Noel (12.8) and O'Donnell (10.5).
? The three players have combined to make 80 of UCF's 94 3-pointers this season.

? In recent years, Dave Noel has been known as UCF's top defender. This season, the senior guard has been exhibiting a well-rounded game.
? He is averaging 12.8 points and 4.5 boards while shooting 51.8 percent overall and 45.7 percent from 3-point range. One of the best free-throw shooters in school history, Noel is among the Conference USA leaders in free-throw percentage (80.4) this season.

? In limited minutes, Tony Davis averaged 10.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in UCF's last two contests. Davis scored 11 points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds last Sunday versus NJIT in 15 minutes of action. On Monday in just 16 minutes, Davis scored 10 points against Long Island.
? The sophomore forward is UCF's top-scoring reserve in 2007-08, averaging 7.6 points. He paces the team on the glass, grabbing 6.0 rebounds per game.

? As a freshman last season, Tony Davis recorded just 15 blocked shots in 31 games. In only 11 contests in 2007-08, Davis has already recorded 17 swats.
? At USF on Dec. 1, Davis established a program single-game record with eight blocks.

? During his collegiate career, Mike O'Donnell has played in two leagues - the ACC and Conference USA. This season, the senior point guard has proved that he can compete against the BIG EAST's best.
? Against No. 19 Villanova, USF and Connecticut, he averaged 18.0 points. Facing the BIG EAST programs, O'Donnell drained 14 3-pointers and shot 46.7 percent from deep.
? In the Knights' contest with Connecticut on Dec. 30, he hit six 3-pointers and finished with 20 points.

? 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 (151-7th), 3-point field goal attempts (386-8th), 3-point field goal percentage (.391-7th), assists (264-7th) and steals (117-10th).
? O'Donnell has started 73-consecutive games for the Knights and has not missed a contest or a start during his time at UCF.

? Mike O'Donnell currently ranks second in Conference USA in steals per game (1.8). O'Donnell has 24 steals on the year. A year ago, he paced the Knights in the category with 48.

? Against Long Island on Monday, Stanley Billings had one of his best games in a UCF uniform. The senior center matched a career high with 12 points and grabbed a career-best seven rebounds versus the Blackbirds.
? On the season, Billings is averaging 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds to go with 16 blocked shots.