UCF Drops Close C-USA Contest to Houston


Feb. 2, 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Despite 31 points from junior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares), the UCF men's basketball team fell just short against Houston on Saturday evening, dropping an 84-81 Conference USA contest at the new UCF Arena. The Knights (11-10, 4-3 C-USA) had the chance to send the game into overtime, but senior guard Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) missed an off-balanced 3-point attempt as time expired.

With the Cougars (16-4, 5-1 C-USA) leading by two points with 25 seconds remaining, the Knights raced down the court, trying to get a quick basket after a missed triple by Houston's Kelvin Lewis. Unfortunately for the hosts, Taylor lost his footing on the way to the basket and was called for an offensive foul.

The game featured 10 ties and nine lead changes. Houston entered the contest garnering votes in both national polls.

The Cougars' Robert McKiver hit four 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 31 points.

"Our kids really played hard. It was a well-played game by both teams," said UCF head coach Kirk Speraw. "I gotta give credit to them (Houston)... they were able to make some big shots in key situations. Our guys made big plays and their guys made big plays."

O'Donnell, who finished with 16 points, connected on four treys after intermission. He hit three 3-pointers during a 16-7 UCF run midway through the second half that turned an 8-point edge for the Cougars into a one-point lead for the hosts.

He capped the spurt with a trey with 5:06 remaining on the clock that gave UCF a 68-67 edge.

UCF led 34-30 at the break. Taylor had four points and O'Donnell hit a triple as the Knights opened the second half with a 9-2 run to push their advantage to 43-32 with 17:18 to play in the game.

With the Knights leading by three with 12:25 in the second half, McKiver hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points during a 13-2 run for the Cougars.

Houston connected on 16-of-42 3-pointers during the contest, making 11 treys in the second half.

Three Knights finished with double-figures in scoring as sophomore forward Tony Davis (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview) totaled 11 points. UCF shot 42.6 percent overall for the game.

Houston shot 41.3 percent overall and 94.1 percent from the free-throw line, making 16-of-17 of their attempts at the charity stripe. In addition to McKiver's 31 points, Zamal Nixon scored 17 points off of the bench.

The Knights conclude a three-game homestand on Wednesday, hosting Marshall. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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