Men's Basketball to Meet No. 1 Memphis Saturday

Feb. 8, 2008

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (www.ucfathletics.com) - For just the second time in school history, the UCF men's basketball team will face a top-ranked squad as the Knights will play at No. 1 Memphis on Saturday in a Conference USA contest. Tip-off at the FedEx Forum is slated for 4 p.m. EST.

UCF (12-10, 5-3 C-USA) will be facing a nationally-ranked team for the third time this season. The Knights concluded a three-game homestand on Wednesday, posting a 77-63 win over Marshall behind a career-best 34 points from junior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla./Tavares). During the contest, Taylor became the 14th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point for his career.

In C-USA play, Taylor is averaging a league-high 25.9 points.

Memphis is 22-0 overall and 8-0 in league play. The top-ranked Tigers have the nation's longest home-winning streak (45 games).

Head coach Kirk Speraw's UCF program has never faced a No. 1 team in the regular season. In the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Speraw's squad met top-ranked Massachusetts in Providence, R.I. The Minutemen were guided by current Memphis head coach John Calipari.

The contest will be broadcast live nationally on CSTV. Tom Hart will handle the play-by-play duties with former Villanova and Massachusetts head coach Steve Lappas providing the color commentary.

In Orlando, the UCF-ISP Sports Network will air the game on 740 AM. Marc Daniels will have the call from the FedEx Forum. Live audio 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 243-197 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 325-218 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Speraw is one of just 16 coaches nationally who has spent at least 14 years at their current school, joining an impressive list that includes Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Jim Calhoun of Connecticut and Gary Williams of Maryland.
? John Calipari (Clarion State, 1982) is 203-63 in his ninth campaign at Memphis and 396-134 overall in his 16th year as a head coach.

? The Tigers have won both series matchups since UCF joined Conference USA in 2005 and have a 5-0 edge in the all-time series. The Tigers, who were ranked 11th-nationally at the time, posted an 87-65 win at the old UCF Arena in front of a facility-record 4,805 fans on Jan. 31, 2007, in the last series meeting. Memphis native Josh Peppers paced the Knights with 20 points, while Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 23 points in the win.
? UCF will be facing a nationally-ranked opponent for the third time this season and for the 20th time in school history (1-18). The contest will mark the ninth time in program history that the Knights have played a squad ranked in the top 10.
? Since 2000, the Knights have met two teams ranked in the top-five of the national polls: No. 2 Florida in 2003 and third-ranked Memphis in 2006.

? Head coach Kirk Speraw and the Knights have faced one top-ranked team before, as UCF met No. 1 Massachusetts in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament. The Minutemen were coached by current Memphis head coach John Calipari.
? Facing the Minutemen in Providence, R.I., the 16th-seeded Knights trailed just 43-39 at halftime, but Massachusetts used a 12-0 run at the start of the second half to pull away and post a 92-70 victory. Harry Kennedy hit four 3-pointers for the Knights and finished with 21 points. The Minutemen, who advanced to the Final Four, were led by Carmelo Travieso's 21 points. Marcus Camby added 14 points and 17 rebounds.
? UCF has never met a top-ranked team during the regular season.

? The top-ranked Tigers are the lone unbeaten team in the country. Memphis has spent three-straight weeks at the top of both national polls. The Tigers have won 41-consecutive regular-season contests and also boast the nation's longest home winning streak (45 games).
? In Conference USA play this season, the team has beaten its eight opponents by an average of 23.6 points. On the year, the Tigers are averaging a league-high 80.6 points, while limiting foes to just 59.9.
? Chris Douglas-Roberts (17.2) paces a balanced scoring attack for Memphis. One of the top freshmen in the nation, Derrick Rose is averaging 14.0 points and 4.4 assists per game. Joey Dorsey is seventh nationally in rebounds, grabbing 11.0 each contest.

? UCF's next game is slated for Feb. 16 at Rice. The Knights have a 3-2 edge in the all-time series.

? Jermaine Taylor scored a career-high 34 points to lift the Knights to a 77-63 win over visiting Marshall on Wednesday. Taylor shot 14-of-23 from the field. During the second half, he became the 14th 1,000-point career scorer in school history.

? Since joining Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign, the Knights have won 23 league contests, a mark that ranks fourth among the 12 C-USA programs during that span. Memphis has won 37 C-USA games in the last three years, followed by Houston (25) and UAB (24).
? UCF entered C-USA with five other programs and has won the most games among the new schools. Besides the Knights, UTEP (22) and Tulsa (17) 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. Rice, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP joined C-USA from the Western Athletic and Marshall came to the conference from the Mid-American.

? In the last six years, head coach Kirk Speraw's UCF program has enjoyed great success, winning 118 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.
? During that span, the Knights trail only Florida (155) and are ahead of Florida State (102) and Miami (86).

? When UCF meets No. 1 Memphis, the contest will serve as the Knights' third game against a nationally-ranked opponent this season. At the Old Spice Classic in November, UCF faced No. 18 Kansas State and No. 19 Villanova.
? Four other squads that UCF played - Nevada, Ole Miss, Sam Houston State and Houston - were all garnering votes in national polls when meeting the Knights.
? UCF's non-conference slate, which was the toughest in program history, featured five opponents that participated in the postseason a year ago. The Knights faced Nevada twice (NCAA), Villanova (NCAA), Kansas State (NIT) and Ole Miss (NIT).
? 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). Connecticut is currently ranked 19th nationally.

? UCF's 10 losses this year have come by an average of 5.6 points. Five 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.
? In Conference USA play, UCF's three defeats have come by an average of four points and one occurred in overtime. Thirteen of UCF's total games this season have been decided by 10 points or less.

? A year ago, the Knights' leading scorer at 14.3 points per game was Memphis native Josh Peppers. The small forward, who was an All-Conference USA Second Team pick as a senior, has graduated, leaving one player from Memphis on the Knights' roster.
? Sophomore Andre Thornton played at Mitchell High School, helping lead his team to the Tennessee Class AA title game as a senior. While in high school, he played against current Memphis players Andre Allen and Pierre Niles. For a year while in high school, Thornton and Niles played on the same AAU squad.
? Thornton did not play in the Knights' C-USA Championship quarterfinal game with Rice at the FedEx Forum last season, but is no stranger to the facility. Following his senior year in high school, he played in the Memphis All-Star Classic game at the arena.

? UCF-Memphis will be aired live across the country on CSTV, marking the Knights' fifth nationally-televised game of the season, which is a school record. UCF's game at the Old Spice Classic with No. 19 Villanova was broadcast on ESPN2 and its contests against No. 18 Kansas State and Penn State at the event were shown on ESPNU. The Knights' home game with Connecticut was also aired on CSTV.

? UCF has been efficient offensively in Conference USA play this season, averaging 79.4 points, which ranks second in the league. The team is averaging 74.5 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 47.2 percent overall, which ranks first in the conference. The team also paces C-USA in assists per game (16.3) in conference contests.

? In its last five games, UCF averaged 83.0 points per contest. The Knights shot 48.3 percent from the field during that span and averaged 17.2 assists.

? 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 61.9 percent of the Knights' points. Taylor (22.1) paces the Knights in scoring, followed by Noel (12.7) and O'Donnell (11.3).
? The three players have combined to make 140 of UCF's 162 3-pointers this season.

? UCF features Conference USA's most-experienced backcourt. A pair of seniors - point guard Mike O'Donnell and shooting guard Dave Noel - have made a combined 135 starts for the Knights.
? O'Donnell has started 82-consecutive games. He has not missed a start or a contest since transferring to UCF from NC State. Noel, who transferred from UNC-Wilmington, has gotten 53-straight starting nods.

? The Knights have recorded at least 15 assists in six of their last seven games. On the year, UCF ranks second in Conference USA in assists behind only Memphis (16.4), averaging 15.4 an outing.
? Four UCF players have recorded at least 30 assists in 2007-08, led by Chip Cartwright (86). The backup point guard is eighth in C-USA in the category, dishing out 4.1 per game. A year ago, Cartwright played in 24 games and totaled 46 assists.

? Averaging 1.9 steals per game, Mike O'Donnell is currently first in Conference USA in the category. O'Donnell has 41 steals on the year. He paced the Knights in steals last season with 48.

? Thanks to Mike O'Donnell, UCF ranks third in Conference USA in steals per game (8.1). Four Knights have recorded more than 20 steals this year.

? Mike O'Donnell struggled with his shooting touch in non-conference play, making just 32.1 percent of his shots from the field. O'Donnell is now shooting the ball with great confidence. In Conference USA games, the senior is shooting 47.2 percent overall.
? In non-league action, he made just 33.3 percent of his tries from 3-point range, but has turned around his shooting from deep as well. In C-USA games, he is fourth in the league, shooting at a 44.6 percent clip from long distance.

? 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 (177-3rd), 3-point field goal attempts (450-5th), 3-point field goal percentage (.393-7th), assists (299-6th) and steals (134-8th).

? Mike O'Donnell needs just four 3-pointers to move into second on UCF's career treys list. Former teammate Josh Peppers (2003-07) is second with 180 triples.
? During O'Donnell's time at UCF, 67.7 percent of his made field goals have been from deep. This season, 57 of his 78 (73 percent) makes have come from 3-point range.

? In addition to being one of the top defensive players in Conference USA, Dave Noel has exhibited a well-rounded offensive game this season. The senior guard is second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game.
? He is 10th in C-USA in field-goal percentage (50.5) and ranks second in 3-point field-goal percentage, making 43.1 of his attempts from deep.
? He has shown great improvement offensively while with the Knights. 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 his third campaign with the Knights, Dave Noel ranks third in program history in free-throw percentage, shooting at an 83.1 percent clip. Cleveland Jackson (1977-79) is the school's leader in the category at 83.8 percent.

? In the last five minutes of games this season, Jermaine Taylor and Dave Noel have been nearly automatic at the free-throw line. The pair is shooting a combined 90.0 percent at the line in the last five minutes.
? Taylor is 30-of-33 (90.9 percent) with time winding down and Noel is 33-of-37 (89.2).

? UCF averaged just 11.4 turnovers in its last five contests. In Conference USA play, the Knights are second in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.24), trailing only top-ranked Memphis (1.37).

Jermaine Taylor NOTABLES

? Jermaine Taylor is second in Conference USA and 14th nationally in scoring, averaging 22.1 points per game. The junior has paced the Knights in points in 19 of UCF's 22 games this season and has scored at least 20 points on 16 occasions.
? Prior to this year, a UCF player had not scored at least 30 points in a game since the 2004-05 campaign. Taylor has achieved the feat on four occasions this season. He is starting for the first time as he was the Knights' main player off of the bench during the last two campaigns.

? In UCF's win over Marshall on Wednesday, Taylor totaled a career-high 34 points and in the process, became the 14th 1,000-point scorer in program history. In 82 games with the Knights, Taylor has recorded 1,011 points.
? 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.
? Taylor needs just 18 points to move to 13th on the school's career scoring register, a spot that is currently occupied by Sinua Phillips (1990-94).

? Taylor has scored over 30 points in each of UCF's last two games, becoming the first Knight to log back-to-back 30-point performances since the school moved to Division I in 1984. He totaled 31 points against Houston on Feb. 2 and recorded a career-best 34 points versus Marshall on Wednesday.
? Taylor has four 30-point efforts on the year. He is the first UCF player to post more than three 30-point performances since the school joined the Division I ranks. Ken Leeks had the previous high with three 30-point games in 1991-92.

? In UCF's last five games, Taylor averaged 26.8 points. During that time, he shot 55.7 percent from the floor and 81.5 percent at the free-throw line.

? Taylor is averaging 25.9 points in Conference USA games. Against league foes, Taylor is shooting 54.4 percent overall and 86.4 percent at the free-throw line.
? His field-goal percentage ranks sixth in C-USA and his free-throw percentage is seventh.
? The junior has exhibited his all-around game in league play as well, averaging 5.4 boards, which ranks 14th. On the defensive end in conference games, he is averaging 1.6 steals, good for seventh in the league.

? Not only does Taylor rank 14th 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 (16.5) of USF is second in scoring in the Sunshine State.

? A year ago, Josh Peppers was the Knights' leading scorer. In 31 games, he totaled 442 points for a 14.3 average. In just 22 contests this season, Jermaine Taylor has already scored 486 points.

? Following his 24-point performance in just 22 minutes against UTEP on Jan. 23, 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.

? Each season at UCF, Taylor has shown great improvement on the court. In 2006-07, he averaged 12.7 points as UCF's sixth man. 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.

? Taylor is eighth in Conference USA, shooting 80.8 percent from the free-throw line as he has made 84-of-104 attempts at the charity stripe.
? His success at the free-throw line is impressive, considering he entered the year as a 64.4 percent shooter. In 2005-06, he shot 71.1 percent at the line. As a freshman, he made just 17-of-56 (30.4) of his attempts.