Knights to Begin Tough Stretch Tuesday at Valpo

Nov. 17, 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF's young men's basketball team will begin a difficult early-season stretch on Tuesday, heading to Indiana to face host Valparaiso. Tip-off from the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, Ind., is set for 8 p.m. Eastern.

The contest will start a stretch of five-consecutive games away from home for the Knights (1-0). Behind 28 points and 10 boards from senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.), UCF opened the campaign with an 81-62 victory over North Carolina A&T at the UCF Arena Sunday.

With eight freshmen and 11 total underclassmen, head coach Kirk Speraw's squad is one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Valparaiso enters Tuesday's contest 1-0 on the year.

The contest will be broadcast on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando, with Marc Daniels on the call. Live statistics and video, courtesy of the Horizon League Network, will be available at UCFAthletics.com. The video is free, but fans must register to utilize the service.

UCF will not play again at home until Dec. 6, when it hosts cross-state foe USF. Season tickets, which begin at only $99, are currently on sale. To order your season tickets today, and to learn more about the Fastbreak Club and other premium seating opportunities, contact the UCF ticket sales office at (407) UCF-1000.

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

About Valparaiso
? The Crusaders started the year with an 87-56 victory over visiting Marian Saturday behind 23 points from Michael Rogers. Valparaiso shot 55.9 percent overall and forced 23 turnovers.
? Last season, Valparaiso won 22 contests and participated in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational in the postseason, recording a win at Washington in the first round. The team returns three starters from a year ago.

Series Information
? The Knights will be meeting Valparaiso for the second time. On Jan. 5, 1989, the Crusaders posted a 90-89 win over UCF in the opening round of Tangerine Bowl tournament in Winter Park.
? The trip to Valparaiso will mark the first time that the Knights have played a contest in Indiana. In program history, the school has only met an opponent from the Hoosier State on one occasion. The Knights faced Purdue in the first round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky.
? Valparaiso is in its second year in the Horizon League. The Knights are 1-4 all-time against Horizon League programs, with the last meeting against a current member coming in 1996 (Youngstown State).

We'll See You Again
? UCF's contest at Valparaiso will mark the first of two meetings for the programs this season. The home-and-home series will conclude on Dec. 22 in Orlando.
? The Knights are no strangers to in-season non-conference home-and-home series. A year ago, UCF began the campaign with a 63-60 victory over Nevada in the inaugural game at the UCF Arena. Just over a month later, the host Wolf Pack posted an 86-74 win against the Knights.

Close to Home
? The contest at Valparaiso will provide A.J. Rompza with the opportunity to play close to home. The freshman guard is a native of Chicago. He attended Whitney Young High School and earned Illinois All-State Class 4A Second Team honors as a senior a year ago.

Last Time Out
? Jermaine Taylor recorded his first career double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds as UCF rolled to an 82-61 victory over North Carolina A&T at the UCF Arena Sunday. The Knights, who shot 50 percent overall, had four players finish with double-digits in scoring, including Isaac Sosa, who posted 18 points in his collegiate debut.
? The Knights finished with a 44-25 edge on the glass. UCF grabbed 18 offensive rebounds.

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will play another tough opponent on the road when the squad meets Ole Miss in Oxford on Wednesday. The Rebels went 24-11 last season and advanced to the postseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals in New York. The Knights hosted Ole Miss on Dec. 8, 2007 in Orlando and the Rebels held on for a 76-67 win. Jermaine Taylor paced the hosts with 19 points.

Away from Home
? UCF's young team will be tested immediately this season as five of the squad's first six games are away from Orlando. The Knights opened the campaign on Nov. 16 in Orlando against North Carolina A&T. Their next home contest will come 20 days later on Dec. 6 versus USF.
? After meeting host Valparaiso, UCF will play at Ole Miss and at New Mexico before heading to Mexico for a pair of games in the Cancun Challenge. The one home contest in November is the fewest during the month for the Knights since the 2004-05 campaign. Last season, the squad had two home contests in November. In 2006-07, UCF played five games in Orlando in November and six-straight at home to start the year.

A Strange Place
? The Knights are not accustomed to playing road games this early in the season. A year ago, Kirk Speraw's squad played two home games to open the season and then participated in the Old Spice Classic in nearby Lake Buena Vista. UCF's first road contest of the season came Dec. 1 at USF. This year the team will play three road games before December.
? The trip to Indiana will mark the earliest date that the Knights have left Florida in their three campaigns in Conference USA. The previous earliest date came on Dec. 12, 2006, when UCF played at Minnesota.
? In the last 10 years, UCF has only played two road games before Nov. 20 - at Auburn (Nov. 19, 1998) and at Hampton (Nov. 19, 2001).

Frequent Flyer Miles
? The Knights are scheduled to travel around the country, and North America, during the month of November. In total, trips to Chicago (Valparaiso), Albuquerue, N.M. (New Mexico), Memphis, Tenn. (Ole Miss) and Cancun, Mexico (Cancun Challenge) will have the Knights traveling 7,338 miles via the air.

Tough Slate
? The contest at Valparaiso is one of 10 games for the Knights this season in which UCF will face a team that won at least 20 games in 2007-08. The Crusaders claimed 22 contests. Valparaiso (College Basketball Invitational) is one of seven squads that played in the postseason in 2008 that UCF will meet this year.

The Veterans
? When UCF meets Valparaiso, two of the more established coaches in the country will be squaring off. Homer Drew is the sixth season of his second stint with the Crusaders, and his 20th season at Valparaiso overall. Kirk Speraw is in his 16th season at UCF and is one of just 15 coaches nationally who have spent 15-consecutive years their current school.

Strong Start
? In his collegiate debut, Isaac Sosa shined against North Carolina A&T, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting. A native of Puerto Rico, he hit four 3-pointers in 26 minutes. His performance marked the first time that a UCF freshman scored at least 10 points in his debut since Joey Graham (10) accomplished the feat against Georgetown on Nov. 24, 2000.

Rated Rookies
? Seven freshmen made their collegiate debuts in the win over North Carolina A&T. The group included six true and one redshirt freshmen. The rookies combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds. Isaac Sosa (18) and P.J. Gaynor (10) both finished with double-digits in points, while Dave Diakite led the young players on the glass with seven boards.

Head Start
? When A.J. Rompza started at point guard versus North Carolina A&T, he became the first true freshman to appear in the starting lineup for the Knights since Troy Lindbeck at Florida Atlantic on March 1, 2003.

On Reserve
? UCF's bench accounted for 41 points in Sunday's victory over North Carolina A&T. Isaac Sosa (18), A.J. Tyler (11) and P.J. Gaynor (10) all totaled double-figures in points off of the bench. The last time that three UCF reserves scored at least 10 points was on Nov. 27, 2006 against Jacksonville (Tony Davis - 14, Jermaine Taylor - 12, Stanley Billings - 10).
? Last season, UCF's bench accounted for more than 40 points three times.

Back on the Court
? Playing for the first time since the postseason National Invitaiton Tournament in March, 2007 when he was a rookie at Clemson, A.J. Tyler had a solid debut for the Knights against North Carolina A&T. The sophomore connected on 5-of-7 attempts from the field and recorded 11 points. He also added five boards in the win.

Hey Young World
? A year ago, Taylor Young appeared in 24 games, averaging 6.0 minutes as a redshirt freshman. Young, who averaged 0.7 points and 1.0 assists, mostly served as a spark off the bench for Kirk Speraw. This season, the Orlando native is expected to have a bigger role for UCF.
? Young showed great improvement in the season-opening win. In 24 minutes as a starter, he established new career highs in assists (8) and points (7). Young also added three steals against the Aggies.

Dunk You Very Much
? UCF closed the game agianst North Carolina A&T on a 22-6 run. The spurt was highlighted by a pair of slam dunks that brought the crowd at the UCF Arena to their feet. At the nine-minute mark, Taylor Young found Jermaine Taylor for an ally-oop. Six minutes later, with the Knights up by 18 points, Dave Diakite skyed for a dunk over the Aggies' Thomas Coleman.

Injured Reserve
? UCF began the campaign without its top rebounder and second-leading returning scorer as Tony Davis is out four to six weeks with an injury. On Nov. 6, head coach Kirk Speraw announced that the junior forward suffered a knee injury in practice. The 6-foot-7 Davis appeared in 29 contests last season, making nine starts. He averaged 6.4 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds. The Sarasota native also paced the team with 36 blocked shots. Davis was expected to begin the year as the team's starting power forward.

Youth Movement
? With seven true freshmen and 11 total underclassmen, the Knights have one of the youngest squads in the country this season. With an average age of 19.60, UCF is the fifth-greenest team in the nation. Denver (18.92) has the youngest squad, followed by Presbyterian (19.27), Saint Peter's (19.29) and Saint Louis (19.42). Including redshirt freshman Chris Baez, the Knights have eight rookies.
? Ironically, UCF had one of the oldest squads in 2007-08. The Knights had five seniors, including 29-year old Stanley Billings, on the roster. Last season's squad included two true and one redshirt freshman.

Jermaine Taylor Notes

Back for More
? Last season, Taylor recorded one of the top campaigns in UCF history. He totaled 646 points, the most by a Knight since the program entered the Division I ranks in 1984. Taylor paced the Knights in scoring in 23 of the team's 31 games and registered 20-point performances on 20 occasions. In Conference USA play, he averaged 21.4 points. Following the conclusion of the regular season, he was named to the All-C-USA Second Team.

Moving Up the Charts
? After totaling a game-high 28 points at North Carolina A&T, Taylor moved to 12th in program history with 1,195 points. Brad Traina (1995-99) is 11th with 1,218 points. Taylor also ranks seventh on the program's Division I scoring register.

20-20 Vision
? A year ago, Taylor scored over 20 points on 20 occasions. During his career, he has scored at least 20 points 33 times.

Career Bests
? Taylor proved that he is more than just a scorer in the season-opening win over North Carolina A&T. He totaled career highs in rebounds (10) and assists (4). The 28-point, 10-board performance provided Taylor with the first double-double of his career.

Nothing Average
? After averaging 20.8 points per game a year ago, Taylor will be looking to become the first Knight since 1978-80 to average over 20 points in back-to-back seasons. Bo Clark averaged 31.6 points in 1978-79, then averaged 26.8 points the following campaign.