UCF to Face Tough Task at New Mexico

Nov. 21, 2008

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will play in one of the toughest venues in the nation Saturday when the Knights face host New Mexico. Tip-off from The Pit is scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern.

UCF (1-1) will be continuing its five-game stretch of games away from Orlando when it meets the Lobos (2-1). Five of the Knights' first six contests to begin the year are away from home.

The Knights are led by senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.), who is averaging 23.0 points per game.

The Pit, with room for over 18,000 spectators, provides New Mexico with one of college basketball's best home courts. The Lobs have won 33-consecutive non-conference home games, good for the sixth-longest streak in the nation.

The game at New Mexico is part of the Cancun Challenge.

UCF-New Mexico will be aired live on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Scott Adams will have the call from The Pit. Live audio will be available on UCFAthletics.com free of charge.

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 New Mexico
? The Lobos are 2-1 in 2008-09 after easing to a 96-50 victory over visiting Grambling State Thursday. New Mexico shot 56.7 percent overall and 52.2 percent from deep in the win, and finished with a 50-33 edge on the boards. Daniel Faris paced the hosts with 18 points and Phillip McDonald had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds).
? Tony Danridge is the team's top scorer on the year at 14.0 points per game. New Mexico is averaging 91.0 points per contest, while limiting its foes to 63.7 points.

Series Information
? UCF and New Mexico will be meeting for the second time. On Dec. 16, 1978, the host Lobos posted a 124-92 victory over the Knights. The trip to New Mexico was part of a two-game Western road swing for the Knights, who were competing on the Division II level at the time. Torchy Clark's squad began the trip with a 92-64 loss at UTEP. Bo Clark scored a game-high 31 points for the Knights against the Lobos on 13-of-35 shooting from the floor. Six New Mexico players, led by Phil Abney with 19 points, finished with double-figures in scoring.
? All-time, UCF is 1-3 against Mountain West Conference programs. Most recently, the Knights recorded a 67-61 win over Utah on Dec. 19, 2006 at the San Juan Shootout. Josh Peppers paced UCF with 26 points in the victory over the Utes.

Cancun Challenge
? The contest with New Mexico is part of the Cancun Challenge. The 10-team event will conclude next weekend in Mexico. The Knights' opponents in Cancun are already pre-determined. The squad will meet South Dakota State Saturday and Morehead State to conclude the tournament Sunday.

? Both team's head coaches have Big Ten Conference ties. Kirk Speraw played at Iowa and graduated from the school in 1980. Steve Alford played collegiately at Indiana, concluding his time with the Hoosiers in 1987. From 1999-07, he served as the head coach at Iowa.

Last Time Out
? Playing on the road in its second contest of the year, UCF fell 69-52 at Valparaiso Tuesday evening. Jermaine Taylor led all players with 18 points for the Knights, who shot 30.4 percent overall. The contest began a home-and-home series between the two programs. The Crusaders will face UCF in Orlando on Dec. 22.

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.

Out West Again
? The game at New Mexico will mark the fifth time in as many years that the Knights have played a non-conference game in the Western portion of the United States. Last season, the squad faced Nevada in Reno. During the 2006-07 campaign, UCF played at Colorado. The previous campaign, the team participated in the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The stretch out west began in November 2004 when the Knights competed at the BP Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Flavor of the Month
? In recent years, UCF has enjoyed great success at the start of the season. The Knights are 25-5 in November dating back to the 2001-02 season.

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.
? The Knights began the string of games away from the Sunshine State on Tuesday at Valparaiso. After meeting New Mexico, the squad will play at Ole Miss 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.

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), Albuquerque, 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 New Mexico 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 Lobos went 24-9 a year ago and played in the postseason National Invitation Tournament. The Lobos are one of seven squads who played in the postseason in 2008 that UCF will meet in 2008-09.
? The contest with New Mexico is one of three-straight on the road against teams that won at least 20 games a year ago for the Knights. The squad played Valparaiso (22 wins in 2007-08) this past Tuesday and will face Ole Miss (24) on Nov. 26.

The Future
? Kirk Speraw landed one of the biggest recruits in school history on Wednesday when Orlando's Keith Clanton signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Knights. The MVP of the national AAU tournament this past summer, the 6-foot-8 forward was the Florida Class 1A Player of the Year for Orlando Christian Prep as a junior. Clanton averaged 21.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 2007-08.
? On Nov. 14, guard R.J. Scott of Slidell, La., signed an NLI to play at UCF. As a junior, Scott garnered Louisiana Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention honors after averaging 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

The Get Fresh Crew
? With seven true freshmen and 11 total underclassmen, the Knights have one of the youngest squads in the country this season. Through two games in 2008-09, true freshmen have scored 43.6 percent of the team's points. Two of the squad's top-three scorers are rookies.
? 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.

From the Start
? Isaac Sosa has had a strong start to his college career. In his UCF debut, he totaled 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 16. A native of Puerto Rico, he hit four 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Sosa is averaging 11.5 points and is shooting 50.0 percent from 3-point range this year.
? Sosa attended Grandview Prep in Boca Raton and was a Florida Class 1A All-State First Team selection as a senior. This past summer, he played for Puerto Rico at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Argentina. He averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 rebounds at the event.

Time for Some Action
? Although he is averaging just 16.0 minutes per contest, P.J. Gaynor has been solid for the Knights early in his freshman season. The Jacksonville native is averaging 8.0 points and 1.0 blocks per game. At Valparaiso on Tuesday, he recorded five points off the bench.

The New Wave
? Dave Diakite has made the most of his time on the court for UCF so far this year. A rookie from Washington, D.C., Diakite enters the New Mexico game averaging 4.5 points and 6.0 boards. He played 26 minutes at Valparaiso and finished with seven points and five rebounds, with three coming on the offensive end.

Jump Start
? A.J. Rompza has started both of UCF's games this season at point guard. When he appeared in the opening lineup in the season opener versus North Carolina A&T, the Chicago native became the first true freshman to start for the Knights since Troy Lindbeck at Florida Atlantic on March 1, 2003.

On Reserve
? Through two contests this season, UCF's bench is producing 31 points per game. In the season-opening win over North Carolina A&T, UCF's reserves accounted for 41 points. 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.

Fair and Balanced
? After two games in 2008-09, only one Knight is averaging more than 25 minutes per contest - Jermaine Taylor (32.0). Last season, three players averaged over 33 minutes for UCF. With a young team, Kirk Speraw is rotating more players this year than in the past.

Jermaine Taylor Notes

Moving Up the Charts
? After totaling a game-high 28 points against North Carolina A&T, Taylor moved to 12th in program history in scoring. Taylor has registered 1,213 points during his UCF career. Brad Traina (1995-99) is 11th all-time at UCF with 1,218 points. Taylor also ranks seventh on the program's Division I scoring register.

On the Glass
? Taylor has upped his rebounding average each year during his time at UCF. This campaign is no different as the senior paces the Knights with a 7.5 rebound-per-game average. In 2007-08, he averaged 4.7 boards.

The Dish
? Through two games this year, Taylor is proving that he is more than just a scorer. He ranks second on the team with six assists and is tied for team lead with three steals and two blocks.

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.

Show and Improve
? Since arriving at UCF prior to the 2005-06 campaign as a freshman, Taylor has shown great improvement offensively from year to year. He averaged just 4.3 points on 39.5 percent shooting overall as a rookie. The following campaign, he shot 47.4 percent from the floor and averaged 12.7 points. Taylor then again upped his average over eight points. Last season, he averaged 20.8 points an outing.