UCF Heads to Houston for Key C-USA Contest

March 4, 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - With only two regular-season contests remaining, the UCF men's basketball team will face host Houston on Wednesday night in a key Conference USA game. Tip-off at Hofheinz Pavilion is slated for 8 p.m. EST.

The Knights (16-12, 9-5 C-USA) are currently fourth in the league standings, one game behind Houston (21-7, 10-4). The top-four squads in the standings at the end of the season receive a first-round bye at the C-USA Championship, which begins on March 12 in Memphis, Tenn.

A year ago in just its second campaign in the league, UCF finished second in C-USA.

Both of the Knights' remaining regular-season games on are on the road. UCF plays at Tulsa on Saturday.

The contest will be broadcast on the UCF ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando with Marc Daniels on the call. 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 247-199 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 329-220 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Tom Penders (Connecticut, 1967) is 78-46 in his fourth year at Houston. In 34 years as a head coach, he is 605-407.

? The Cougars have a 4-2 edge in the all-time series with UCF. In Houston, each team has claimed a victory. On Feb. 2 in Orlando, the Cougars made 16-of-42 3-point field goal attempts to hold on for an 84-81 win over UCF. Jermaine Taylor totaled 31 points for the hosts, while Houston's Robert McKiver also finished with 31 points.
? Last year when the squads met in Houston, UCF led by 20 points at halftime, but McKiver scored 25 of his game-high 36 points after halftime to lift the Cougars to a 73-70 win in overtime. Lavell Payne made 13-of-16 free-throw attempts for the Knights and recorded 26 points.

? The Cougars feature one of the nation's top scorers in Robert McKiver. The shooting guard is second in Conference USA, averaging 23.1 points. On Feb. 27, he scored 52 points in a win over Southern Miss.
? Houston is 15-2 at home this season. On the year, the squad is averaging 78.9 points and nearly 11 3-pointers per game.
? On Saturday, McKiver scored 29 points as Houston fell 84-83 at East Carolina. McKiver hit four triples against the Pirates and is connecting on 4.3 treys per game. Dion Dowell is averaging 11.1 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds.

? The Knights will conclude the regular season on Saturday at Tulsa. The contest will mark the first time since the program joined Conference USA in 2005 that UCF will conclude the regular season with a road game. The all-time series with Tulsa is tied, 3-3. On Jan. 12, UCF topped the Golden Hurricane 97-91 in triple overtime in the inaugural Conference USA contest inside the new UCF Arena. Jermaine Taylor totaled seven of his 28 points in the final extra session, including a pair of 3-pointers.

? Jermaine Taylor scored 20 points and Dave Noel added 19 points as UCF held on for a 68-60 win over Rice on Saturday at the new UCF Arena. Noel and UCF's four other seniors were playing at home for the final time. The Knights finished with a 38-31 edge on the glass.

? Since joining Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign, the Knights have won 27 league contests, a mark that ranks fourth among the 12 C-USA programs during that span. Memphis has won 44 C-USA games in the last three years, followed by Houston (29) and UAB (29).

? The contest against the Cougars will serve as the Knights' fourth game in Texas this season and third trip to the Houston-area this year. The squad has already faced Sam Houston State and Rice. The Knights also met SMU in Dallas.
? Since joining Conference USA in 2005, UCF has played nine games in the Lone Star State.

? Houston native Chip Cartwright will be playing in front of his friends and family when UCF faces the Cougars. Cartwright attended Phillis Wheatley High School in Houston. In his two years with the Knights, Cartwright has already played in the Houston-area on four occasions.

? In the Knights' previous two games at Houston, UCF dominated in the first half, outscoring the Cougars 71-44 before intermission. A year ago, the Knights led 35-15 at the break. During the 2005-06 matchup, UCF took a 36-29 edge into halftime.
? The Knights shot a combined 54.5 percent overall in the first half in the two previous meetings in Texas.

? The Knights are 5-1 when playing on Wednesday in 2007-08. UCF will be playing a road game on a Wednesday for the first time this year when it faces Houston.
? UCF has averaged 85.4 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the floor during its Wednesday games.

? In league games, the Knights pace Conference USA in field goal percentage. The squad is shooting 47.4 percent from the floor against conference foes.

? Against Conference USA opponents, the Knights are averaging 77.4 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.

? After using just one starting lineup through the first 16 contests of the season, Kirk Speraw has utilized four different lineups in the last four games. Nine different Knights have started during that span: Mike O'Donnell (4), Dave Noel (4), Jermaine Taylor (2), Stanley Billings (2), Kenrick Zondervan (2), Mike Battle (1), Chip Cartwright (1), Tony Davis (1) and Taylor Young (1).
? Battle and Cartwright both earned the first starts of their careers on Saturday against Rice on senior night. Young became the first freshman to start for the Knights since the 2002-03 season when he appeared in the lineup versus Tulane on Feb. 27.

? After making just 20 total 3-pointers in their previous four contests, the Knights made 40 triples in their last four games. The squad shot 43.5 percent from deep in those contests.

? This season, the Knights are 16-2 when leading at halftime. In the last two years, the squad is 33-6 when taking a lead into intermission.
? In the first half of games this season, UCF boasts a +6.0 scoring margin. The team is shooting 45.9 percent from the field before intermission.

? The Knights' inaugural season at the new UCF Arena was a success. Not only did the team go 12-4 at home, but the program also established a new attendance record.
? A school record 78,253 fans attended 16 home contests for an average of 4,891. A year ago, a then-school record 43,296 spectators witnessed the Knights play 16 home games at the old UCF Arena.
? This year, 10 of the top-12 crowds in school history were recorded. A UCF record 7,097 fans were on hand on Jan. 12 as the Knights hosted Tulsa in the inaugural Conference USA game at the new facility.

? In 28 contests this year, Mike O'Donnell has logged 957 minutes, which ranks eighth on UCF's single-season register. He is averaging 34.2 minutes per game, good for seventh in Conference USA.
? Jermaine Taylor (926) and Dave Noel (916) are both approaching the top 10 on UCF's single-season minutes played list. Gary Johnson played a school record 1,086 minutes in 2004-05 as the Knights advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season.
? O'Donnell has played at least 35 minutes on 16 occasions. In UCF's triple-overtime victory over Tulsa on Jan. 12, Noel spent 51 minutes on the floor. Taylor played 49 minutes in the victory and O'Donnell logged 44 minutes.

? UCF has connected on 208 3-pointers in 2007-08. That mark is fifth on the school's single-season 3-point field goals made list. The 2004-05 squad hit a record 283 treys.

? In his first 12 games of the season, Mike Battle totaled just 33 points. Battle was a major contributor for the Knights in the team's last four contests, scoring a combined 42 points in games against East Carolina, Marshall, Tulane and Rice.
? He averaged 10.5 points during the span and shot 68.4 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from deep, making 10-of-15 3-point field goal attempts.
? On the year, 18 of his 24 made field goals have been from 3-point range.

? When Stanley Billings missed seven games in Conference USA play due to an injury, UCF registered 13 blocked shots without its starting center. In their last three contests with Billings back in the lineup, the Knights totaled 11 swats.
? Billings has recorded five blocks after returning to action and matched a career best with four swats against Rice on Saturday.

? 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 61.4 percent of the Knights' points. Taylor (21.2) paces the Knights in scoring, followed by Noel (13.0) and O'Donnell (11.6).
? The three players have combined to make 174 of UCF's 208 3-pointers this season.

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 23 of UCF's 28 contests this season and has scored at least 20 points on 19 occasions.

? This season, Taylor has scored 593 points. The total is the most by any Knight since the school joined the Division I ranks in 1984. The 593 points are good for ninth on the school's single-season scoring register.
? 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 1,118 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 been accurate shooting the ball this year, connecting at a 48.7 percent clip from the floor. The percentage ranks 13th in Conference USA. Against league foes, he is shooting 51.1 percent overall.

? Taylor has connected on 69 3-pointers this season. That number is good for ninth on UCF's single-season register.
? He is eighth all-time at UCF with 149 triples. His rise on the career 3-pointers chart is impressive, as he hit just 17 treys as a rookie in 2005-06.