UCF Welcomes Rice to Orlando for Senior Night

Feb. 29, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will conclude its inaugural campaign at the new UCF Arena on Saturday, hosting Rice. Tip-off for the Knights' home finale is set for 7 p.m.

With three regular-season contests remaining, UCF (15-12, 8-5 Conference USA) is in fourth in the C-USA standings. The top four squads in the 12-team conference at the end of the season receive a first-round bye at the league championship.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early on Saturday because prior to tip-off, UCF's five seniors will be honored. Guards Mike Battle (Waldorf, Md./Southern Maryland Christian), Chip Cartwright (Houston, Texas/Phillis Wheatley), Dave Noel (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) and Mike O'Donnell (Largo, Fla./Largo) and center Stanley Billings (Orlando, Fla.) will all be playing at home for the final time.

Junior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares) needs just nine points to become UCF's single-season scoring leader at the Division I level. He has totaled 573 points in 2007-08.

Rice is 3-23 overall and 0-13 in C-USA play.

Tickets for the game are available at all Ticketmaster outlets and at the UCFAA Box Office at Bright House Networks Stadium. On Saturday, tickets can be purchased at the new UCF Arena.

UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

The contest will be aired on the UCF ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will provide play-by-play on the broadcast and will be joined by former Knight Josh Bodden.

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

? Kirk Speraw (Iowa, 1980) is in his 15th season as UCF's head coach. He owns a 246-199 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 328-220 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Willis Wilson (Rice, 1982) is 219-242 in his 16th year as a head coach and at Rice.

? UCF owns a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with Rice and has claimed all four Conference USA regular-season matchups with the Owls since the two programs joined the league prior to the 2005-06 campaign.
? On Feb. 16, the Knights defeated Rice 60-53 in Houston behind 22 points from Jermaine Taylor. Dave Noel added 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the win as UCF shot 51.3 percent from the floor.
? The squads will be meeting in Orlando for only the second time. On Jan. 20, 2007, UCF shot 53.5 percent overall in a 72-67 win at the old UCF Arena over the Owls. Josh Peppers paces UCF with 14 points. Noel helped limit Rice All-America forward Morris Almond to 20 points on 3-of-15 shooting from the floor.

? The Owls have dropped 16-straight contests. All five of the squad's season-opening starters have missed at least one game due to injury and as a result, Rice has used 14 different starting lineups this season.
? The team's top scorer, Paulius Packevicius (11.1) has not played since Jan. 23 due to an injury. Rodney Foster is averaging 11.0 points for Rice and Patrick Britton is averaging 9.8 points and 5.1 boards.

? UCF will head to Texas for the fourth time this season when it plays at Houston on Wednesday. On Feb. 2 in Orlando, the Cougars made 16 3-point field goals to escape with an 84-81 win over the Knights. Jermaine Taylor scored 31 points in the losing effort.

? Five Knights scored in double-figures as UCF posted an 80-63 win over visiting Tulane on Wednesday. Jermaine Taylor led all players with 19 points in the victory. UCF made 24-of-28 free throws (85.7) in the win. The hosts led 44-33 at intermission and finished the game with a 34-21 edge on the glass.

? UCF's senior class is hoping that their senior night is similar to the one experienced by three Knights a year ago. Against East Carolina in the 2007-08 season finale, Josh Peppers and Lavell Payne were both stellar in their final game at home.
? Peppers totaled 25 points, while Payne added 17 points. The pair shot a combined 64.0 percent from the floor. Reserve Adam Gill scored one of the final baskets at the old UCF Arena, draining a jumper at the end of the game.

? Since joining Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign, the Knights have won 26 league contests, a mark that ranks fourth among the 12 C-USA programs during that span. Memphis has won 43 C-USA games in the last three years, followed by Houston (29) and UAB (28).
? UCF entered C-USA with five other programs and has won the most games among the new schools. Besides the Knights, UTEP (24) and Tulsa (21) have posted the most league victories among the new members.

? In the last six years, head coach Kirk Speraw's UCF program has enjoyed great success, winning 121 games. Dating back to the start of the 2002-03 campaign, the mark ranks second among the 11 programs in the state of Florida that have sponsored Division I basketball during that entire time. UCF is ahead of both Florida State (105) and Miami (90) of the Atlantic Coast Conference during the span.

? When UCF entered Conference USA in 2005, the school was joined by five other programs, including four schools that were members of the Western Athletic Conference. Since joining C-USA, the Knights are 11-4 against the former WAC programs: Rice (4-1), UTEP (3-0), Tulsa (3-1) and SMU (1-2).

? After playing seven Conference USA games at home this season, UCF's home court advantage at the new UCF Arena is apparent. The squad is averaging 90.7 points against league foes in Orlando.
? The Knights are shooting 51.5 percent overall and 42.2 percent from 3-point range in C-USA play at home, while dishing out an average of 18.7 assists.
? In six C-USA road contests, the Knights have averaged 64.3 points. The squad is shooting 42.0 percent from the floor and 32.1 percent from deep on the road in league action.
? On two occasions this season, UCF has scored over 100 points at home against C-USA foes.

? In league games, the Knights pace Conference USA in field goal percentage. The squad is shooting 47.5 percent from the floor against conference foes.

? Against Conference USA opponents, the Knights are averaging 78.1 points. UCF has scored at least 80 points against conference foes on six occasions.
? In non-conference games in 2007-08, UCF averaged 71.6 points. Last year, the Knights averaged 69.6 points in C-USA contests.

? The Knights have won 11 home contests at the new UCF Arena this season. In each of the last five seasons, UCF has claimed at least 10 victories at home. In 2006-07, the team went 15-1 in its final campaign at the old UCF Arena. Dating back to the start of the 2003-04 campaign, UCF is 60-14 at home.

? Thanks to the new UCF Arena, the Knights now have one of the finest on-campus facilities in college basketball. The 10,000-seat venue provides UCF fans with comfortable seating, 16 luxury suites and numerous concession options.
? In the Knights' first campaign at the new arena, nine of the top-11 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 15 home games and a school-record 72,647 fans have attended the contests for an average of 4,843 per game. A year ago, a then-school record 43,296 fans watched the Knights in 16 home contests at the old UCF Arena.

? UCF's attendance total of 72,647 this season is a school single-season record. In fact, this year's total is larger than the program's combined attendance the last two seasons.
? Two years ago, 23,115 fans watched the Knights play and in 2006-07, 43,296 spectators saw the squad at the old UCF Arena. The two-year total of 66,411 from 2005-07 is still 6,236 less than the total this season with one home game remaining on the schedule.

? After making just 20 total 3-pointers in games against Houston and Marshall at home and at Memphis and Rice, the Knights connected on 33 treys in their last three contests.
? The squad shot 43.4 percent from deep in those contests.

? Taylor Young earned the first starting nod of his career on Wednesday in UCF's win over visiting Tulane. He started alongside Mike O'Donnell in the backcourt as Jermaine Taylor came off of the bench for the first time this season.
? Young became the first freshman to start for the Knights since March 1, 2003, when Troy Lindbeck cracked the lineup against Florida Atlantic. Young paced the Knights with three assists against the Green Wave.

? This season, the Knights are 15-2 when leading at halftime. In the last two years, the squad is 32-6 when taking a lead into intermission.

? UCF has excelled in the first half during its seven Conference USA home contests this season. The Knights are averaging 41.1 points in the first 20 minutes against league foes in Orlando, compared to 32.4 for their opponents.

? The Knights have been sharing the ball in Conference USA play. The squad paces the league, averaging 15.9 assists versus conference foes. The Knights have recorded at least 15 assists in four of their last five games.
? On two occasions against league foes, UCF has recorded 25 assists. Three Knights have registered at least 70 assists in 2007-08, led by Chip Cartwright with 96.

? This season in league play, the Knights are second in Conference USA in assist/turnover ratio (1.20), trailing only Memphis (1.36). Mike O'Donnell is fourth in C-USA action in assist/turnover ratio at 2.33 and Dave Noel (1.65) ranks ninth.

? UCF has connected on 201 3-pointers this season. The Knights need five more treys to move into the top-five on the school's single-season 3-point field goals made list. The 2004-05 squad hit a record 283 treys.

? Prior to coming off of the bench at Marshall on Feb. 23, Stanley Billings missed seven contests due to an injury. He started against Tulane on Wednesday and had a strong performance, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds and a block in 21 minutes of action.

? Mike Battle connected on all four of his 3-point field goal attempts and totaled a career-best 15 points in just 16 minutes in UCF's win over Tulane on Wednesday. The senior averaged 11.0 points in the Knights' last three games. During that span, he shot 72.7 percent from deep, making 8-of-11 attempts.
? Sixteen of Battle's 22 made field goals this year have come from 3-point range.

? In his first two campaigns with the Knights, Dave Noel rarely shot the ball from 3-point range. He attempted 79 triples, making 26 (32.9 percent).
? Now in his third year at UCF, the senior has not been shy about shooting from deep this season and the results have paid off for the Knights. Noel has made 33-of-71 attempts from behind-the-arc in 2007-08. He paces Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage (46.5).

? In each season at UCF, Dave Noel has exhibited great improvement offensively. This year, he is second on the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game. 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. In 2007-08, Noel is shooting 50.7 percent overall.

? In the win over East Carolina on Feb. 20, Mike O'Donnell moved to second on UCF's career 3-pointers list. He has connected on 189 treys in three years with the Knights. Jason Thornton (1998-02) is the school's all-time leader in the category with 220 3-pointers. O'Donnell's former teammate Josh Peppers (2003-07) is third with 180 triples.

? In just his third season with the Knights 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 (189-2nd), 3-point field goal attempts (487-3rd), 3-point field goal percentage (.388-9th), assists (313-5th) and steals (137-8th).

Jermaine Taylor NOTEABLES

? Jermaine Taylor is fourth in Conference USA and 17th nationally in scoring, averaging 21.2 points per game. The junior has paced the Knights in points in 22 of UCF's 27 contests this season and has scored at least 20 points on 18 occasions.

? Taylor enters the Rice game with 573 points in 2007-08. He needs just nine points to become UCF's single-season scoring leader at the Division I level.
? Mark Jones recorded 581 points in 1997-98. Jones' total is the most by any Knight since the school joined the Division I ranks in 1984. Bo Clark scored a UCF-record 806 points during the 1976-77 season. All-time, UCF players have recorded more than 600 points in a campaign on only eight occasions.
? Taylor is the first Knight to score over 500 points in a campaign since the 2003-04 season, when Dexter Lyons recorded 567 points. A year ago, Josh Peppers was the Knights' leading scorer. In 31 games, he totaled 442 points for a 14.3 average.

? In just his third season in Orlando, Taylor ranks 13th all-time at UCF with 1,098 points. On Feb. 6 against Marshall, he totaled a career-high 34 points and in the process, became just the 14th 1,000-point scorer in program history.
? He became the second member of his family to join the 1,000-point club at UCF. His cousin, Darryl Davis, scored 1,540 points with the Knights from 1991-95. Davis played for head coach Kirk Speraw for two seasons.
? Paul Reed (1999-02) is 12th at UCF with 1,182 points.

? Taylor has shined against Conference USA foes in Orlando this season. He has averaged 25.4 points in seven league contests at the new UCF Arena. In those games, he shot 56.6 percent from the floor and 86.5 percent at the free-throw line.

? Taylor has connected on 67 3-pointers this season. That number is tied for 10th on UCF's single-season register.
? He is eighth all-time at UCF with 147 triples. His rise on the career 3-pointers chart is impressive, as he hit just 17 treys as a rookie in 2005-06.