UCF Holiday Classic to Begin Monday

Dec. 28, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will be looking to win its ninth-consecutive game at the UCF Arena on Monday when the Knights host Penn. The contest is part of the UCF Holiday Classic and tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Before the Knights (6-4) play the Quakers (1-6), Chicago State will face Campbell at 4:30 p.m. The event will conclude with two games on Tuesday.

UCF is 4-0 at home this year. Head coach Kirk Speraw's team is averaging 86.8 points in Orlando. The Knights have not played since rolling to an 85-60 win over visiting Valparaiso on Dec. 22.

On the season, senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) leads the team, averaging 20.4 points per game. He has been the Knights' top scorer in nine of the squad's 10 games in 2008-09.

Tickets allow fans to watch both contests Monday. For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com or call (407) 839-3900. The UCF Arena box office will also be open Monday. Students are admitted free to all UCF home games with a valid school ID.

UCF Basketball Outback Steakhouse Four-Pack is currently available for only $50 by calling the UCF ticket sales office at (407) UCF-1000. The four-pack offers the best seat available at the UCF Arena for the Knights' Jan. 10 contest with national power Memphis. The package also includes tickets to UCF's Conference USA games with SMU (Jan. 28), Houston (Feb. 4) and East Carolina (March 7).

UCF-Penn will be aired live on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will handle the play-by-play duties on the broadcast and will be joined by former UCF guard Mike O'Donnell. Pregame coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. Live video and statistics will be available at 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 Penn
? The Quakers have faced a tough non-league schedule to open the year. Penn began the season by falling 86-71 at No. 1 North Carolina and has also played No. 16 Villanova. The team has not played in 24 days. Tyler Bernardini is Penn's top scorer at 15.3 points per game.

Series Information
? UCF and Penn will be meeting for the first time on the hardwood. All-time, the Knights are 2-2 against Ivy League institutions. The last time that the program played an Ivy League squad occurred on Dec. 28, 2004, and visiting Brown held on for an 83-82 overtime win over the Knights in the UCF Holiday Classic semifinals.

Last Time Out
? Jermaine Taylor scored 21 points and the Knights shot 63.3 percent overall as UCF rolled to an 85-60 win over Valparaiso on Dec. 22. The Knights, who hit 13 3-pointers, never trailed during the contest. Taylor connected on 7-of-10 field goals and made 6-of-8 shots from deep. UCF led 44-28 at intermission.
? The win avenged a 69-52 loss at Valparaiso for the Knights earlier this season. The teams met on Nov. 18 in Indiana.

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will meet either Campbell or Chicago State on Tuesday on the second day of the UCF Holiday Classic. The Knights have a 20-7 edge in the all-time series with Campbell. UCF has won five-straight against their former Atlantic Sun Conference rivals. The last meeting occurred on Feb. 26, 2005, and the Knights posted a 63-52 win in Buies Creek, N.C. The contest served as the final regular season A-Sun game for the Knights.
? The Knights are 2-0 versus Chicago State, including a 99-83 road win on Dec. 18, 2002.

? From 1999-06, Penn's Glen Miller served as the head coach at Brown. During that time, his Bears played against Providence and current UCF assistant coach Steve DeMeo five times. DeMeo was an assistant at Providence from 1998-08. The Friars went 4-1 against Brown with DeMeo and Miller on the sidelines.

UCF Holiday Classic History
? This year's event will serve as the fifth installment of the UCF Holiday Classic. The Knights are 6-2 all-time at the tournament and have won the last two event titles. A year ago, UCF recorded a 78-69 win over Long Island to claim the crown.

Home Base
? The Knights, who have enjoyed great success since the UCF Arena opened last fall, enter the game with Penn with an eight-game home winning streak. The team is off to a 4-0 start at the venue this season. The Knights have won seven-consecutive non-conference contests at home.
? Since the UCF Arena opened, UCF is 16-4 at the facility.

Home Cooking
? This season, the Knights are excelling offensively at home. The squad is averaging 86.8 points per game at the UCF Arena. In four home contests, the Knights are shooting 54.1 percent overall and 44.4 percent from deep.
? Last season, UCF averaged 81.1 points at the arena, compared to 63.6 percent on the road.

The Score
? The Knights have scored over 70 points in all four of their games at the UCF Arena this year. Since the facility opened last fall, UCF has been held below 70 points on only four occasions in 20 games.

? UCF is coming off one of the best shooting performances in program history. Against Valparaiso on Dec. 22, the squad shot 63.3 percent overall. That mark tied for seventh on the school's single-game field-goal percentage register.

The Dish
? The Knights were in the sharing mood prior to Christmas. UCF averaged 19.5 assists in its last four games. The team recorded 20 assists on 31 field goals in the win over Valparaiso. On the year, the Knights rank second in Conference USA, averaging 15.6 assists per game.

Finding Their Range
? UCF began the season by playing five of its first six games away from home. As a result of the travel, the Knights shot 38.6 percent overall during their first six contests. The team has turned things around as of late. ? The Knights shot 51.9 percent from the floor in their last four games. UCF is now shooting 43.9 percent on the year.

Rated Rookies
? UCF's large freshman class has made an immediate impact this season. Six true freshmen and one redshirt freshman have seen time for the Knights this season.
? The rookies have played 842 out of 2,000 possible minutes (42.1 percent) during the year.
? The freshmen have accounted for 39.6 percent of the team's scoring this season.

Slow Down
? Since he arrived on campus over the summer, A.J. Rompza has heard daily from UCF's coaching staff that he needs to slow it down when running the team. When Rompza has the ball, Kirk Speraw and his assistants want the point guard to take his time, survey the defense and make good decisions.
? A look at his statistics over UCF's last four games shows that Rompza is following the advice. During that span, he dished out 28 assists and had just nine turnovers as the Knights went 3-1. He also averaged 7.3 points while shooting 57.9 percent overall and 66.7 percent from 3-point range.
? He began his career by totaling 19 assists and 15 turnovers in UCF's first six games of the campaign.

The Fresh Prince
? Early in the season, it appears that UCF has found a scorer to complement Jermaine Taylor. Isaac Sosa ranks second on the team with 9.9 points per game. The freshman is shooting 50.0 percent overall. A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, he is shooting 47.8 percent from 3-point range, having connected on 18-of-42 attempts from deep.
? Sosa garnered Conference USA Rookie of the Week honors on Dec. 15 after recording 22 points in UCF's win over Florida Tech. He connected on 6-of-12 3-point field goal attempts. The six triples tied for seventh on the school's single-game 3-pointers register.
? As a senior last season, Sosa received Florida Class 1A All-State First Team honors at Grandview Prep in south Florida. He averaged 19.5 points and 6.5 assists. This past summer, Sosa played for Puerto Rico at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Argentina. Sosa averaged 13.8 points and 3.2 boards at the event.

Quick Work
? Isaac Sosa took advantage of his time on the floor in the win over Valparaiso. In just 14 minutes, he totaled 15 points on 4-of-5 shooting. All four of his made field goals came from 3-point range.

The Time
? Tony Davis was also effective in limited minutes against Valparaiso. The forward logged 13 minutes, but still managed to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Davis grabbed a game-high six rebounds versus the Crusaders.

A Productive Pair
? Chris Baez played well in UCF's last two games. The redshirt freshman averaged 9.5 points against Florida and Valparaiso. He connected on three triples in the contests.
? Baez missed all of last season due to a knee injury. In 2008-09, he is averaging 5.0 points in 14.7 minutes of action.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
In the Lead
? One of the nation's premier offensive players, Jermaine Taylor is currently second in Conference USA, averaging 20.4 points per game. The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in nine of the team's 10 contests in 2008-09. He has recorded five 20-point performances and two 30-point showings.

House Party
? Taylor has been stellar at home this season as the senior is averaging 27.5 points at the UCF Arena. In four games, he is shooting 60.9 percent from the floor, 52.0 percent from deep and 8.67 percent at the free-throw line. Taylor has also dished out an average of 3.0 assists in Orlando.

Triple Trouble
? After hitting six triples in the win over Valparaiso, Taylor moved to third all-time at UCF with 183 3-pointers. His former teammate, Mike O'Donnell (2005-08), is second with 195 treys. Taylor also ranks fourth in school history with 487 3-point attempts.

Lucky Seven
? Against Penn, Taylor should move to seventh all-time at UCF in career scoring. He currently ranks eighth with 1,371 points. Former teammate Josh Peppers is seventh with 1,376 points. Taylor also ranks fifth on the program's Division I scoring register.

Sunshine State Scoring
? Taylor is the most prolific scorer in the Sunshine State. His 20.4 points per game average is first among players at the 13 schools in Florida that sponsor Division I basketball. Taylor was the top scorer in the state a year ago when he averaged 20.8 points.
? The top scorers in Florida are below:

1. Jermaine Taylor, UCF (20.4)
2. Toney Douglas, Florida State (17.8)
3. Ben Smith, Jacksonville (17.5)
4. Dominique Jones, USF (17.1)
5. Jack McClinton, Miami (17.0)

All-Around Success
? This season, Taylor is exhibiting his all-around game. In addition to leading the team in scoring, he has been UCF's top rebounder in 2008-09, grabbing 5.3 boards per contest. Taylor also ranks first on the team in blocks with nine and is third with 25 assists.