Knights Looking to Continue Road Success at Ole Miss

Nov. 25, 2008

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Coming off one of the most significant wins in school history, the UCF men's basketball team will face another tough opponent when the Knights play at Ole Miss Wednesday. Tip-off from the Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Miss., is set for 8 p.m. Eastern.

On Saturday, UCF (2-1) snapped New Mexico's 33-game home non-conference winning streak with a 72-71 victory at The Pit. The streak was the fifth-longest in the nation.

On Wednesday, head coach Kirk Speraw's squad will play an Ole Miss (3-1) squad that won 24 contests in 2007-08 and advanced to the postseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

The contest in Mississippi continues a stretch of five-straight games away from Orlando for UCF. The Knights are led by senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.), who is averaging 21.3 points on the year.

UCF-Ole Miss will be broadcast on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will provide the call. Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. and audio will also be available free of charge on UCFAthletics.com.

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 Ole Miss
? The Rebels are off to a 3-1 start in 2008-09. The squad went 1-1 at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach over the weekend, closing the event with an 82-78 victory over Marshall. Chris Warren totaled a career-high 28 points in the win. David Huertas added 21 points for Ole Miss.
? Ole Miss, a squad that won 24 games a year ago and advanced to the postseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals, is 2-0 at home this season. Huertas is the squad's leading scorer at 22.5 points per game, followed by Warren (19.8).

Series Information
? UCF and Ole Miss met for the first time last season and the Rebels held on for a 76-67 victory in Orlando. The Knights, who trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half, got within one point with three minutes to play, but were doomed by a pair of turnovers. Jermaine Taylor paced all players with 19 points. Dave Noel added 14 points for UCF. Chris Warren totaled 18 points in the win.
? Ole Miss is one of two Southeastern Conference squads that the Knights will meet this year. On Dec. 20, the team will play Florida in Jacksonville.
? UCF will be playing in the Magnolia State for the second-straight year. Last January, the Knights began Conference USA play with a 52-41 victory at Southern Miss.

? The Rebels have three players from Florida, including two from Orlando. One of the players from the Sunshine State, Eniel Polynice, is out for the year with a knee injury. Polynice is good friends with UCF's Tony Davis, and the pair shared Sarasota Herald Tribune Player of the Year honors in 2005-06.
? Both squads also have Puerto Rico natives who attended high school in Florida. Ole Miss' David Huertas (Humacao) went to Arlington Country Day in Jacksonville before attending Florida. The Knights' Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo) went to high school in south Florida at Grandview Prep.

Last Time Out
? Chris Baez hit the game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds left to give UCF a 72-71 victory at New Mexico on Saturday. The win snapped a 33-game home non-conference winning streak for the Lobos. UCF trailed by nine points with two minutes to play, but Jermaine Taylor scored six points as the Knights closed the game with a 12-2 run. Taylor, who finished with a team-high 18 points, assisted on the game-winning shot.

Up Next for the Knights
? The Knights will head to Mexico to play a pair of games at the Cancun Challenge. On Saturday, UCF will take on South Dakota State. The following day, the Knights will meet Morehead State. The contest with the Eagles will be aired live nationally on CBS College Sports. UCF began the Cancun Challenge last Saturday at New Mexico. The event features 10 teams with games in the United States and Mexico.

A Huge Win
? Kirk Speraw called it "one of the most significant wins in UCF history." The Albuquerque Journal declared it "one of the biggest upsets in Pit history." UCF's 72-71 victory at New Mexico Saturday was big for the program. The win ended a 33-game non-league winning streak for the Lobos at The Pit, which is considered one of the toughest venues in the nation.
? Before UCF's win, the previous non-league loss for New Mexico came in December 2004 to No. 5 Wake Forest. The winning streak included victories over Colorado, Kansas State, Oregon, San Diego, Texas Tech and No. 8 Wichita State. The Knights faced the Lobos in front of 12,707 fans at The Pit.

Tough Slate
? The contest at Ole Miss 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 Rebels won 24 games a year ago and played in the postseason National Invitation Tournament. Ole Miss is one of seven squads who played in the postseason in 2008 that UCF will meet in 2008-09.
? The contest with Ole Miss is one of three-straight on the road against teams that won at least 20 games a year ago for the Knights. UCF played Valparaiso (22 wins in 2007-08) on Nov. 18 and New Mexico (24) last Saturday.

Going for a Milestone
? In his 16th year at UCF, Kirk Speraw needs one more win to record his 250th victory at the school. Speraw enters the contest at Ole Miss with a 249-203 mark with the Knights.
? One of the longest-tenured coaches in the country, Speraw began his time at UCF in 1993-94. That year, the school's enrollment was listed at 23,000. Today, the university is one of the largest in the nation with an enrollment of 50,000. Speraw is one of just 15 coaches in the country who have spent at least 15-consecutive years at their current school. The 2006-07 Conference USA Coach of the Year, he has led the Knights to the NCAA Tournament four times.

The Youngsters
? With seven true freshmen and 11 total underclassmen, the Knights have one of the youngest squads in the nation 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 country's 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.

Fresh Start
? Through three games this season, freshmen, including redshirt Chris Baez, have recorded 42.9 percent of UCF's points. Adding in transfer A.J. Tyler, newcomers are responsible for 55.1 percent of the squad's scoring.

On the Rebound
? At Valparaiso on Nov. 18, Chris Baez had a horrific evening. The redshirt freshman missed all seven of his attempts from the floor and went 0-for-4 from 3-point range. Baez bounced back in a major way at New Mexico. He hit three triples, including the game-winner with four seconds left, and finished with 12 points in the win over the Lobos.

Welcome Back
? Tony Davis missed UCF's first two games of the year due to a knee injury. He returned at New Mexico and contributed for the Knights. The junior scored nine points and added four boards off the bench. The team's leading rebounder (5.9) from a year ago, Davis was expected to open the year as the squad's starting power forward.

The Future
? Kirk Speraw landed one of the biggest recruits in school history on Nov. 19 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.

Fair and Balanced
? After three games in 2008-09, only one Knight is averaging more than 22 minutes per contest - Jermaine Taylor (31.7). 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. Eleven Knights are averaging at least 10 minutes a game.

Jump Start
? A.J. Rompza has started all three 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.
? Rompza had the best game of his collegiate career at New Mexico. He totaled 9 points and also dished out five assists in 26 minutes.

A Big Impact
? After A.J. Tyler transferred from Clemson prior to last season, UCF's coaches raved about his offensive skills. Three games into 2008-09, Tyler is displaying his strong offensive game. He is averaging 8.3 points on the year and is shooting 69.2 percent from the floor and 57.1 percent from deep. The 6-foot-9 sophomore has started UCF's last two contests.
? At New Mexico, he hit three triples - all in the first half - and finished with 11 points.

Swinging Like Sosa
? Isaac Sosa has started his college career in strong fashion. He totaled 18 points in UCF's season-opening win over North Carolina A&T and ranks second on the squad in scoring at 9.7 points per game. The shooting guard from Puerto Rico has connected on 6-of-12 shots from 3-point range and is averaging 18.3 minutes an outing.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
The Takeover
? Jermaine Taylor scored just two points in the first half at New Mexico Saturday. He saved his best for last, totaling 11 points in the last five minutes of the contest as the Knights' rallied for a 72-71 win at The Pit. Taylor recorded six points during a 12-2 UCF run to close the contest. He also assisted on Chris Baez' game-winning 3-pointer.

Moving Up the Charts
? During the game at New Mexico, Taylor moved to 11th in program history in scoring. He has registered 1,231 points during his time at UCF. Bennie Shaw (1974-76) is 10th all-time at UCF with 1,238 points. Taylor also ranks sixth 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 6.7 rebound-per-game average. In 2007-08, he averaged 4.7 boards.