Men's Basketball Seeking Top-Four Finish in C-USA

March 7, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - When the UCF men's basketball team concludes the regular season on Saturday at Tulsa, the Knights will be looking to secure a top-four finish in Conference USA for the second-consecutive year. Tip-off for the contest at the Reynolds Center is slated for 8 p.m. EST.

UCF (16-13, 9-6 C-USA) is currently fourth in the league standings. With a win over Tulsa (16-12, 7-8), the Knights will clinch fourth in the conference and garner a first-round bye at the C-USA Championship, which begins on Wednesday in Memphis, Tenn.

The Knights, who finished second in the 12-team league a year ago, can also secure fourth if Marshall loses to visiting Southern Miss on Saturday. UCF can finish no worse than fifth in the standings.

In each of their three campaigns in C-USA, UCF has finished in the top-half of the league.

UCF-Tulsa 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 247-200 record at UCF. In his 18th year as a head coach, he has a 329-221 mark. In 2006-07, he was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year.
? Doug Wojcik (Navy, 1987) is 47-40 overall and in his third season as Tulsa's head coach.

? On Jan. 12, the Knights and Tulsa met in the inaugural Conference USA game at the new UCF Arena and the hosts held on for a 97-91 victory in triple overtime. Jermaine Taylor totaled seven of his 28 points in the final extra session, including a pair of 3-pointers, to lift the Knights to the win. The contest was played in front of a school-record 7,097 fans.
? Tulsa rallied after trailing 40-25 at halftime. Ben Uzoh paced the Golden Hurricane with 25 points.
? The all-time series is tied 2-2. Tulsa has won all three matchups with the Knights in Oklahoma, including a 66-64 contest a year ago.
? The four meetings since the programs joined C-USA have been decided by an average of 4.8 points.

? Tulsa has won six of its last eight contests and is 12-2 at home this year. Ben Uzoh paces the team in scoring at 15.1 points per game. Calvin Walls is second in Conference USA in rebounds per game (7.1).
? On Wednesday, the Golden Hurricane led by three at halftime, but fell 84-70 at UAB. The Blazers shot 50.8 percent from the field for the game. Ray Reese led Tulsa with 19 points and Jerome Jordan recorded a double-double with 16 points and 14 boards.

? The Knights will make their third appearance in the Conference USA Championship next week in Memphis, Tenn. The top-four squads in the league standings receive a first-round bye and will open the event in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

? Nineteen points and five 3-pointers from Mike O'Donnell were not enough for UCF as the Knights fell 73-68 at Houston on Wednesday. The Cougars made 18-of-23 free throws in the second half to record the win.

? 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 45 C-USA games in the last three years, followed by Houston (30) and UAB (30).
? 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 (22) have posted the most league victories among the new members.

? Tulsa guard Rod Earls played at Paris Junior College with UCF's Mike Battle. The pair helped lead the Dragons to the 2005 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I title. Both players redshirted in 2005-06 and are seniors this year.

? 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 12-4 against the former WAC programs: Rice (5-1), UTEP (3-0), Tulsa (3-1) and SMU (1-2).

? The March 8 contest at Tulsa will serve as the latest regular-season game in UCF history. The previous latest date for a regular-season game came in 1987-88 when the Knights faced Miami on March 5.

? Due to the Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship, which is currently being held in Orlando, the Knights are concluding the regular season on the road for the first time since joining C-USA in 2005. A year ago, the squad hosted East Carolina for its regular-season finale.

? UCF has won five-straight regular-season finales. The squad's last loss in the final game of the regular season came in 2002 when it fell 82-80 in overtime at Jacksonville.

? Mike O'Donnell excelled offensively in UCF's last five games, averaging 15.8 points. He hit 16 triples in the contests and shot 93.8 percent from the free-throw line, making 15-of-16 attempts. The senior point guard paced the squad in scoring in two of the games.

? In UCF's last eight contests, Dave Noel exhibited his consistency. During the span, he averaged 13.3 points, scoring in double-figures each game. Noel shot 54.2 percent overall and 50.0 percent from deep.
? He also averaged 4.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

? In league games, the Knights pace Conference USA in field goal percentage. The squad is shooting 47.0 percent from the floor against conference foes.

? Against Conference USA opponents, the Knights are averaging 76.7 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.

? UCF's 13 losses this year have come by an average of 6.7 points. Five of the losses were by three points or less and three defeats came in overtime.
? The Knights fell to No. 18 Kansas State and traditional power Connecticut by a combined five points. Seventeen of UCF's total games this season have been decided by 10 points or less.
? Subtracting UCF's loss at top-ranked Memphis, the Knights' five Conference USA defeats have come by an average of 4.4 points. Memphis boasts a +19.1 scoring margin in league play.

? UCF has connected on 218 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 school-record 283 treys.

? In 29 contests this year, Mike O'Donnell has logged 994 minutes, which ranks fourth on UCF's single-season register. He is averaging 34.2 minutes per game, good for seventh in Conference USA.
? Jermaine Taylor (963) is ninth on UCF's single-season's minutes played list and Dave Noel (953) is nearing the top 10. 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 17 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.

? In UCF's contest at Houston on Wednesday, Mike O'Donnell went over the 900-point plateau for his career with the Knights. He has scored 905 points while at UCF.
? O'Donnell played at NC State as a freshman in 2003-04 and during his four-year collegiate career, has totaled 977 points. He needs just 23 points to reach the 1,000-point mark.

? With 195 triples, Mike O'Donnell ranks second all-time at UCF. 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.
? O'Donnell needs just six 3-point field goal attempts to become the school's all-time leader in the category.

? As UCF's top defender, Dave Noel is usually asked to guard the opponent's best perimeter player each game. He handled the task with great success at Houston on Wednesday, limiting Robert McKiver to 15 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the floor. McKiver entered the contest 10th nationally, averaging 23.1 points.

? 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 36-of-77 attempts from behind-the-arc in 2007-08. He paces Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage (46.8).

Jermaine Taylor NOTEABLES

? Jermaine Taylor is fourth in Conference USA, averaging 21.0 points per game. The junior has paced the Knights in points in 23 of UCF's 29 contests this season and has scored at least 20 points on 19 occasions.

? This season, Taylor has scored 609 points. The total is the most by any Knight since the school joined the Division I ranks in 1984. The 609 points are good for sixth 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 600 points in a season since Bo Clark totaled 751 in 1979-80. 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 1,134 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.

? Taylor has been accurate shooting the ball this year, connecting at a 47.8 percent clip from the floor. The percentage ranks 13th in Conference USA. Against league foes, he is shooting 49.2 percent overall.

? Taylor has connected on 71 3-pointers this season. That number is good for ninth on UCF's single-season register.
? He is eighth all-time at UCF with 151 triples. His rise on the career 3-pointers chart is impressive, as he hit just 17 treys as a rookie in 2005-06.