Men's Basketball to Return to Action at Rice Saturday

Jan. 16, 2009

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will return to action Saturday, facing host Rice at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston, Texas. Tip-off for the Conference USA contest is set for 4 p.m. Eastern.

The matchup with Rice will conclude a two-game road swing for the Knights (10-6, 0-2 C-USA). Senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) enters the game with the Owls (6-10, 1-1) tied for fifth in school history with 1,540 points. He currently ranks ninth nationally in scoring at 23.3 points an outing.

Saturday's game will air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call from Houston, with pregame coverage set to start at 3:30 p.m. Live video will be available on UCFAthletics.com.

After facing Rice, the Knights will return to Orlando and open a three-game homestand Wednesday versus Southern Miss.

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 Rice
? The Owls defeated visiting SMU Wednesday, 69-57, to snap a 19-game Conference USA losing streak. In the win, Lawrence Ghoram totaled 17 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Rice limited SMU to a 36.2 percent showing from the field and a 12.5 percent effort from 3-point range.
? Rice is 3-5 at home this season. Cory Pflieger paces the team in scoring at 10.6 points per game. The Owls lead C-USA in 3-point field goal percentage (36.8).

Series Information
? The Knights lead the all-time series with Rice, 5-2. That includes a 3-0 mark at Rice since the programs joined Conference USA in 2005. UCF has won all five C-USA regular season matchups versus the Owls.
? The Knights went 2-0 against Rice a year ago. On March 1, host UCF claimed a 68-60 victory over Rice behind 20 points from Jermaine Taylor. Due to renovations to Tudor Fieldhouse, the matchup in Houston was held at Reliant Arena and UCF held on for a 60-53 win on Feb. 16 in front of an announced crowd of 270. Taylor led all players with 22 points in the win.
? In the last series matchup on the Rice campus, Josh Peppers scored a game-high 18 points and UCF connected on 17 second-half free throws as the Knights posted a 74-63 win over the Owls on Feb. 17, 2007.
? A year ago, Taylor averaged 21.0 points on 51.8 percent shooting from the floor and 50.0 percent shooting from 3-point range against Rice.
? The contest will serve as the first of three games in Texas this year for the Knights. The squad will meet host UTEP on Feb. 11 and return to Houston on Feb. 21 to face the Cougars. Last season, UCF made four trips to Texas, facing Sam Houston State in non-league play and Houston, Rice and SMU in C-USA action.

Last Time Out
? Playing its first Conference USA road contest of the year, UCF could not hang on to top UAB Tuesday as the Blazers rallied for a 60-52 victory. The Blazers used a 17-0 run to end the game to post the win. Jermaine Taylor paced UCF with 18 points.

Up Next for the Knights
? After two-consecutive games on the road, the Knights will return to Orlando to face Southern Miss Wednesday. The all-time series is tied, 2-2. Last year, UCF posted a 52-41 win over the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss returned the favor in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Championship, taking a 68-62 win at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Lone Star
? After shining in the Lone Star State last season, Jermaine Taylor should be eager to return to Texas. In four games in the state in 2007-08, he averaged 21.5 points. He made a combined 13 3-pointers in contests against Sam Houston State, Houston, Rice and SMU.

Tough Start
? UCF had a difficult start to Conference USA play. The Knights met the teams that were selected to finish first and second in the C-USA Preseason Poll. On Jan. 10, UCF hosted Memphis. The Tigers, who were receiving votes in both national polls when they played in Orlando, were tabbed to claim the league title. The Knights then faced the squad that was picked to finish second, UAB, on the road Tuesday.

Post Production
? UCF received great production from its three primary post players - Tony Davis, A.J. Tyler and Kenrick Zondervan - in the team's last three games. The group combined to average 26.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in games against Holy Cross, Memphis and UAB. The trio shot 61.9 percent overall. ? On Jan. 10 against Memphis, Davis, Tyler and Zondervan 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.

Great Starts
? The Knights have played well in the first half in both of their Conference USA contests. The squad is shooting 49.1 percent overall in the opening half against league foes. UCF is averaging 35.5 points and 9.5 assists in the opening 20 minutes of league games.

? 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 second in the conference in field-goal percentage (45.1) and is third from 3-point range, shooting 35.6 percent from deep.
? UCF is connecting on 7.3 3-pointers per contest.

Tyler's Take
? A.J. Tyler is off to a good start in Conference USA play. The backup power forward is averaging 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 25.5 minutes of action. Tyler is shooting 70.0 percent overall against league foes.

Sharing is Caring
? The Knights rank second in Conference USA, averaging 15.6 assists per game. Four Knights have dished out at least 20 assists on the year, led by A.J. Rompza (77).

The Dish
? A.J. Rompza is third in Conference USA, recording 4.8 assists per game. His 2.03 assist/turnover ratio is good for fifth in the league.

Handle with Care
? UCF's starting shooting guard, Taylor Young, leads Conference USA with a 2.72 assist/turnover ratio. Young has recorded 49 assists with just 18 turnovers this year. In C-USA games, he has dished out seven assists without turning the ball over.

Three's Company
? Isaac Sosa leads Conference USA in 3-point field goal percentage. A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, he is shooting 46.4 percent from deep (32-of-69). He is the lone freshman ranked in the top-10 in the league in the statistical category. Sosa is averaging 2.0 treys per game.

Off the Blocks
? After recording two blocks at UAB Tuesday, Tony Davis now ranks eighth in UCF history with 63 career swats. Jeff Dorschner (1980-82) is seventh on the list with 83 blocked shots. Davis has totaled 12 blocks in 13 contests this season.

On Target
? UCF's starting center, Kenrick Zondervan, rarely shoots, but when the native of Holland does have a field-goal attempt, he is accurate. The senior is shooting 63.8 percent from the floor this year. He has connected on 30-of-47 shots from the field and is averaging 5.0 points per contest.

Three the Hard Way
? UCF has made it difficult for its Conference USA foes to succeed from 3-point range this season. League opponents are shooting just 27.5 percent (11-of-40) from deep versus the Knights. On Tuesday at UAB, the Blazers made just 4-of-22 (18.2 percent) shots from behind-the-arc for.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
Follow the Leader
? One of the premier players in the country, Jermaine Taylor ranks ninth nationally and second in Conference USA in scoring at 23.2 points per game. The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in 15 of the team's 16 contests in 2008-09. He has recorded eight 20-point performances and four 30-point showings.

Family Ties
? Taylor is currently tied for fifth in school history with 1,540 career points. Ironically, he is tied with his 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 is also tied for second 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.

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 23.3 points in 30.3 minutes per contest.
? In 2008-09, Taylor has scored 373 points in only 484 minutes, giving him an average of 30.8 points per 40 minutes.

More Milestones
? Taylor needs only five 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 fourth with 1,925 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 557 field goals during his career, needs 14 baskets to enter the top 15 of the league's field goals made register.

Field Day
? Shooting 49.5 percent overall, Taylor has been incredibly accurate this season. His field-goal percentage ranks sixth in Conference USA. He is the only player listed in the league's top-15 in the category who has made more than 100 field goals.

Trey Songz
? With 198 career triples, Taylor ranks second in UCF history in the category. With three 3-pointers against Memphis on Jan. 10, he passed former teammate Mike O'Donnell (2005-08) on the school's list. O'Donnell made 195 treys as a 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 523 triples during his career.
? He is shooting 39.0 percent from deep this year, good for fifth in Conference USA.

? Taylor is 10th in Conference USA, shooting 78.4 percent at the free-throw line. He needs just two made foul shots to enter the top 10 in UCF history in the category. Taylor has hit 228 free throws during his career. Brad Traina (1995-99) is 10th in program history with 230 made free throws.
? Taylor has improved his touch at the line each season at UCF. As a freshman in 2005-06, he made just 11-of-25 (44.0 percent) of his tries from the charity stripe.