Men's Basketball to Face Tough Test Tuesday at UAB

Jan. 12, 2009

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UCFAthletics.com) - After nearly defeating national power Memphis over the weekend, the UCF men's basketball team will face another one of Conference USA's top programs on Tuesday when the Knights meet host UAB. Tip-off at Bartow Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern.

UCF (10-5, 0-1 C-USA) has won five of its last six games. The squad has been led by senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.), who ranks seventh nationally in scoring at 23.7 points per game.

Taylor will not be the only offensive standout on the floor in Birmingham. The Blazers' (9-6, 0-1) feature C-USA's fourth-leading scorer in Robert Vaden (19.0). UAB was tabbed second in the C-USA Preseason Poll and advanced to the Preseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals in November.

UCF-UAB will be televised live regionally on CSS and in Orlando on Bright House Sports Network. Bob Neal will have the call and will be joined by color commentator Brian Oliver.

The contest will also air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will handle the play-by-play duties. Pregame coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m.

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 UAB
? The Blazers, who were selected second in the Conference USA Preseason Poll, feature three of the top-10 scorers in Conference USA in Robert Vaden (19.0-4th), Paul Delaney III (16.4-8th) and Lawrence Kinnard (15.7-10th). UAB paces the league in field goal percentage, shooting at a 45.3 percent clip. Kinnard ranks second in C-USA in rebounds per game (9.1).
? UAB opened the year by advancing to the Preseason National Invitation Tournament semifinals in New York City. On Saturday, the squad dropped a 75-56 contest at Houston.

Series Information
? The Blazers lead the all-time series, 3-0. The squads met last year in Orlando and UAB held on for an 88-81 victory at the UCF Arena behind 25 points from Lawrence Kinnard on Jan. 30, 2008. The Blazers shot 58.5 percent overall and 50.0 percent from deep. Jermaine Taylor paced the Knights with 19 points.
? The squads met on Jan. 10, 2007, at Bartow Arena and the Blazers rallied to post a 74-64 overtime win over the Knights. Paul Delaney III hit a runner in the lane as time expired to send the contest into an extra session. The Knights led by 10 points with three minutes to play in regulation. Josh Peppers paced UCF with 20 points. Lawrence Kinnard hit four triples and led all players with 21 points in the victory.

Last Time Out
? UCF nearly handed Memphis its first Conference USA loss since 2006, but 24 points from Jermaine Taylor were not enough as the Tigers held on for a 73-66 victory at the UCF Arena Saturday. The contest was played in front of a school record 9,825 fans. The Knights, who led 40-39 at the break, had an eight-point advantage with 16 minutes to play. Memphis then limited UCF to only three points and no field goals during an 11-minute period. The Tigers outscored the hosts 18-3 during the span.
? Tony Davis had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights, who shot 45.1 percent overall.

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will conclude a two-game road swing Saturday at Rice. The Knights have a 5-2 edge in the all-time series with the Owls and won both matchups a year ago.

Winter Heat
? After a tough stretch to start the year, UCF has enjoyed great success. The Knights are 7-2 since Dec. 1. The stretch included a five-game winning streak, which was snapped Saturday against Memphis.
? Since Dec. 1, the Knights are averaging 79.9 points and are shooting 49.9 percent overall and 43.1 percent from deep.

Back on the Road
? The Knights began the season by playing five of their first six games away from home. Since that difficult stretch, the team has barely left Orlando. UCF just concluded a six-game homestand.
? The contest at UAB will serve as the squad's first game away from the UCF Arena since Dec. 20 when the Knights met Florida in Jacksonville. UCF has not played a true road game since Nov. 26 at Ole Miss. After facing the Rebels, the team had a pair of games at the Cancun Challenge in Mexico.

Back to Life
? This season, UCF's young team has shown its maturity as the Knights have not lost back-to-back games. UCF is 4-0 after a loss this season. The Knights are hoping the trend continues at UAB. Prior to Saturday, UCF's most recent loss came on Dec. 20 to Florida. Two days later, the squad recorded an 85-60 victory over Valparaiso.

Tough Start
? With a matchup against Memphis last Saturday, the Knights obviously had a tough start to their Conference USA schedule. The Tigers, who were selected first in the C-USA Preseason Poll, are receiving votes in both national polls. The tough stretch to begin league play continues against the Blazers. UAB was tabbed second in the preseason poll.

Tony's Take
? Tony Davis was solid in UCF's last three contests, including the tilt with Memphis this past Saturday. The junior recorded his first double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 boards versus the Tigers. He also totaled three blocked shots.
? In the Knights' last three games, he averaged 14.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The power forward did most of his scoring at the free-throw line. He made 24-of-31 (77.4 percent) of his foul shots. On Jan. 6 versus Holy Cross, Davis went 14-of-16 at the charity stripe and finished with 16 points.

? Since UCF has joined Conference USA, the Knights have annually been among the top shooting teams in the league. This season is no different. UCF ranks third in the conference in field-goal percentage (45.2) and is second from 3-point range, shooting 36.4 percent from deep.
? UCF is connecting on 7.6 3-pointers per contest.

Sharing is Caring
? The Knights lead Conference USA, averaging 16.1 assists per game. Four Knights have dished out at least 20 assists on the year, led by A.J. Rompza (77).

Post Power
? Entering the contest with Memphis Saturday, much of the talk focused on the need for Jermaine Taylor to score in bunches for the Knights to stay in the game with the Tigers. Taylor did his share of scoring, but it was UCF's post players who provided much of the offense for the Knights.
? Kirk Speraw used three big men, and the group - Tony Davis, Kenrick Zondervan and A.J. Tyler - combined for 34 points and 17 rebounds. Davis led the way with 16 points and 10 boards and Zondervan added 10 points and four rebounds in his starting role. In 22 minutes off the bench, Tyler had eight points and three boards.

The Dish
? A.J. Rompza is third in Conference USA, recording 5.1 assists per game. His 2.20 assist/turnover ratio is good for fifth in the league.

Welcome Freshman
? One of the youngest members of the UCF squad has been proving that Jermaine Taylor is not the Knights' only offensive threat. Isaac Sosa ranks third on the team in scoring at 9.4 points per game. The freshman shooting guard is averaging 20.2 minutes. He has scored in double figures on six occasions.

Three's Company
? Isaac Sosa leads Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage. A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, he is shooting 48.5 percent from deep (32-of-66). Sosa's 3-point field goal percentage is higher than his percentage from the field (48.1). ? He is the lone freshman ranked in the top-10 in the league in the statistical category. Sosa is averaging 2.1 treys per game.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
In the Lead
? One of the premier players in the country, Jermaine Taylor ranks seventh nationally and first in Conference USA in scoring at 23.7 points per game. The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in 14 of the team's 15 contests in 2008-09. He has recorded eight 20-point performances and four 30-point showings.

Efficient Efforts
? Last season, Taylor averaged a team-high 20.8 points in 33.5 minutes per game. This season, he has been more productive despite playing fewer minutes. He is averaging 23.7 points in 30.1 minutes per contest.
? In 2008-09, Taylor has scored 355 points in only 451 minutes, giving him an average of 31.4 points per 40 minutes.
? Stephen Curry of Davidson, the nation's top scorer (29.4) is averaging over five minutes more than Taylor. Curry is spending 35.4 minutes per game on the floor.

Family Ties
? Taylor currently ranks sixth in UCF history with 1,522 career points. Who is up next on the list? Taylor's cousin, Darryl Davis. From 1991-95, Davis totaled 1,540 points for the Knights. He played for head coach Kirk Speraw in 1993-94 and was a member of UCF's NCAA Tournament squad that season. In 2008, Davis was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame. Both cousins attended Tavares High School.
? Taylor also ranks third on the school's Division I scoring register. Ken Leeks (1988-92) is the program's all-time leader in scoring at the D-I level with 1,763 points.

More Milestones
? Taylor needs 23 points to enter the top 15 on the Conference USA career scoring list. Chris Douglas-Roberts, who starred at Memphis from 2006-08, is 15th with 1,545 points. Stefon Jackson of UTEP is the only other active player listed in the top 15. He is fifth with 1,898 points. ? USF's Altron Jackson (1999-02) is the league's all-time leader in scoring with 2,017 points. Some of the big names on the top-15 list include Rodney Carney (Memphis), Travis Diener (Marquette) and Jason Maxiell (Cincinnati).
? Taylor, who has made 551 field goals during his career, needs 20 baskets to enter the top 15 of the league's field goals made register.

Trey Songz
? With 196 career triples, Taylor ranks second in UCF history in the category. With three 3-pointers against Memphis Saturday, he passed former teammate Mike O'Donnell (2005-08) on the school's list. O'Donnell made 195 treys as Knight. Jason Thornton is the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers. He made 220 from 1998-02. Taylor has attempted a school record 517 triples during his career.
? He is shooting 39.4 percent from deep this year, good for fifth in Conference USA.

Hot Streak
? Taylor is the main reason why the Knights have won seven of nine games since Dec. 1. In UCF's last nine contests, he averaged 27.3 points while shooting 56.4 percent overall, 50.0 percent from deep and 81.5 percent at the free-throw line.

Free Falling
? As a freshman in 2005-06, Taylor shot just 44.0 percent at the free-throw line, making 11-of-25 attempts. He has improved his form at the line each season and currently ranks 12th in Conference USA, shooting 77.1 at the charity stripe.