Knights Back in Action Saturday Against Sam Houston State

Jan. 2, 2009

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Fans will have another opportunity to watch one of the most exciting players in the nation on Saturday when senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) and the UCF men's basketball team hosts Sam Houston State. Tip-off at the UCF Arena is set for 7 p.m.

Taylor, who is averaging 23.0 points per game in 2008-09, earned MVP honors at the UCF Holiday Classic earlier in the week after averaging 36.0 points in two contests. In the title game win over Chicago State, he scored a career-best 38 points.

UCF (8-4) is 6-0 at the UCF Arena this year. Sam Houston State enters the contest 6-6.

The contest with the Bearkats is part of a six-game homestand for the Knights. Tickets for the game are available via Ticketmaster. On Saturday, the UCF Arena box office will be open before the game.

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-Sam Houston State 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 Sam Houston State
? The Bearkats typically have one of the top defenses in the nation, and this year is no different. Foes are averaging 63.8 points and are shooting just 29.5 percent from deep against Sam Houston State. In its last contest, the squad defeated visiting Northwest Oklahoma State, 73-52. Two days earlier, Sam Houston State fell 60-50 at Texas A&M.
? Corey Almond paces the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game. In addition to averaging 10.1 points, DeLuis Ramirez is the Bearkats' top rebounder at 7.0 per game.

Series Information
? The Bearkats have a 2-0 edge in the all-time series and the teams will be meeting for the first time in Orlando. Sam Houston State has won the previous two series matchups by a combined seven points.
? The programs met a year ago and host Sam Houston State escaped with a 60-58 overtime win on Jan. 5, 2008. The Bearkats improved to 12-1 in 2007-08 with the victory and pushed their non-conference home winning streak to 44 games. Jermaine Taylor scored a game-high 22 points for the Knights on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. UCF had the chance to tie the game at 58 with 22 seconds left in overtime, but Mike O'Donnell could not connect on a 3-pointer.
? The programs met for the first time on Dec. 21, 2005, in the consolation game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The Bearkats held on for a 68-63 victory.
? Sam Houston State is a member of the Southland Conference. UCF is 7-11 all-time against current Southland programs.
? The Bearkats are one of five teams from Texas that the Knights will face this season. The squad will also play Houston, Rice, SMU and UTEP in Conference USA action.

Last Time Out
? Jermaine Taylor established a career high with 38 points as the Knights claimed the UCF Holiday Classic title with an 89-75 win over Chicago State on Tuesday. Taylor connected on 13-of-22 shots from field in only 29 minutes. The Knights shot 53.4 percent overall and finished the game with a 43-28 edge on the glass. Taylor, who was named the event's MVP, was joined on the all-tournament team by A.J. Rompza, who totaled 10 assists and six rebounds in the win over the Cougars.

Up Next for the Knights
? UCF will conclude its non-conference schedule Wednesday, hosting Holy Cross. The teams will be meeting for the first time. The game will be televised live locally on Bright House Sports Network.

? Sam Houston State head coach Bob Marlin served as the head coach at Pensacola Junior College from 1990-95, where he followed Kirk Speraw. Speraw left his position of head coach at PJC in 1990 to work as an assistant coach at Florida.

A Productive Month
? The Knights concluded December with a 5-1 record. UCF averaged 82.8 points during the month, and shot 52.4 percent overall in December. A year ago, the squad went 3-4 during the month.

Shut'em Down
? On Monday, Chicago State's David Holston set a UCF Arena record with 40 points in the Cougars' win over Campbell. After his incredible performance against the Camels, Holston entered the championship game of the UCF Holiday Classic on Tuesday against the Knights averaging 27.8 points per game. He did not achieve more UCF Arena success versus the Knights.
? A.J. Rompza and Taylor Young shared time guarding Holston. They helped limit him to only 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field. Holston made just 1-of-11 attempts from 3-point range.

Home Base
? The Knights, who have enjoyed great success since the UCF Arena opened last fall, have won 10-consecutive games at home. The team is off to a 6-0 start at the facility this season. The Knights have claimed nine-straight non-league contests in Orlando.
? Since the UCF Arena opened, UCF is 18-4 at the venue.

The Score
? The Knights have scored over 70 points in all five of their games at the UCF Arena this year. Since the facility opened last fall, UCF has totaled at least 70 points in 17 of 22 contests.
? UCF has recorded over 80 points in each of its last three games, which have all been at home.

Tournament Triumph
? Jermaine Taylor was not the only reason that the Knights claimed their third-straight UCF Holiday Classic title earlier in the week. In a pair of games at the event, A.J. Rompza dished out 17 assists and had just two turnovers. The Chicago native, who is listed at just 5-foot-9, also averaged a team-high 6.5 rebounds.
? In 2008-09, Rompza is averaging 5.3 assists, which ranks third in Conference USA.

Sharing the Rock
? A.J. Romzpa was certainly in the giving mood during the holiday season. The freshman point guard averaged 7.5 assists in six games during December. He posted a 4.1 assist/turnover ratio during the month.

The Dish
? Thanks to A.J. Rompza, the Knights rank second in Conference USA in assists per game (16.5). At home this year, UCF is averaging 20.0 assists.
? Through 12 games in 2008-09, UCF has recorded 198 assists.

You Don't Know the Half
? UCF has held on to its leads this season. The Knights are 5-0 when leading at halftime. UCF took an advantage into intermission in each of its last three contests.

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 1,067 out of 2,400 possible minutes (44.4 percent) during the year.
? The freshmen have accounted for 37.2 percent of the team's scoring this season.

Triple Time
? Isaac Sosa has proved his accuracy at the start of his collegiate career. The freshman is shooting 49.1 percent from 3-point range, which leads Conference USA. Sosa has made 26-of-53 attempts from deep. Sixty-three percent of his made field goals during the season have come from behind-the-arc.
? Sosa is averaging 2.1 treys per game, which ranks eighth in the conference.

Off the Blocks
? With six blocks in nine games this year, Tony Davis continues to move up the UCF career swats register. The junior forward has recorded 57 blocks during his career, good for ninth in program history. Bucky Hodge, who played for the Knights from 1997-99, ranks eighth with 62 swats.

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 63.6 percent from the floor this year. He has connected on 21-of-33 shots from the field and is averaging 4.5 points per contest.

The Comeback Kids
? The Knights have trailed at halftime in three of their eight wins this season. Most recently, USF led UCF by two at the break on Dec. 6. The host Knights outscored the Bulls 45-35 in the second half to post an eight-point victory.
? At New Mexico on Nov. 22, UCF trailed by nine points with just 4:24 remaining in the game but came back to take a 72-71 win when Chris Baez nailed a triple with four seconds on the clock. Against South Dakota State on Nov. 29, UCF trailed by 10 points two minutes into the second half, but rallied to post a 66-64 victory.

Big Improvement
? The nation's second-tallest player, Jakub Kusmieruk has shown great improvement as his freshman year has progressed. The 7-foot-4 center had the most productive game of his career in UCF's win over Chicago State Tuesday. In only seven minutes he scored a season-best eight points. He made 2-of-2 shots from the field and went 4-of-6 at the free-throw line. Kusmieruk also added three rebounds, including two on the offensive end, and recorded his first collegiate block.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
In the Lead
? One of the nation's premier offensive players, Jermaine Taylor is currently second in Conference USA, averaging 23.0 points per game. The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in 10 of the team's 11 contests in 2008-09. He has recorded five 20-point performances and four 30-point showings.

? Tournament organizers had an easy time selecting the UCF Holiday Classic MVP on Dec. 30. In two contests at the event, Taylor averaged 36.0 points in only 27.5 minutes per contest. He shot a staggering 62.8 percent from the floor, 46.2 percent from 3-point range and 80.0 percent at the line. Taylor also averaged 4.5 rebounds and totaled three blocked shots and three steals for the Knights in wins over Penn and Chicago State.

? 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. Taylor is averaging 23.0 points in 29.3 minutes a contest. He has logged over 35 minutes on only one occasion in 2008-09, spending 36 minutes on the court at Valparaiso.
? UTEP's Stefon Jackson, who leads Conference USA in points per game at 24.4, is averaging 35.7 minutes.

Family Ties
? Taylor currently ranks sixth in UCF history with 1,433 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.

Field Day
? Shooting 50.2 percent overall, Taylor has been incredibly accurate this season. His field-goal percentage ranks fifth in Conference USA. He is the only player listed in the league's top-15 in the category who has attempted more than 200 field goals.

Trey Songz
? With 189 career triples, Taylor ranks third in UCF history in the category. Former teammate Mike O'Donnell (2005-08) is second with 195 treys. Jason Thornton is the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers. He made 220 from 1998-02.
? Against Sam Houston State, Taylor should become UCF's all-time leader in 3-point field goal attempts. He is tied with O'Donnell for second with 500 tries. Thornton attempted a school-record 505 treys during his career.

Three the Hard Way
? Taylor is shooting 39.0 percent from deep this season, which ranks sixth in Conference USA. He has made 30-of-77 tries from deep.

Board Work
? This season, Taylor is exhibiting that he is more than just a lethal scorer. He leads UCF on the glass in 2008-09, grabbing 5.2 rebounds per contest. Twenty of his 42 boards have come on the offensive end.

Swat Team
? Taylor, who is listed at 6-foot-4, leads UCF in blocks on the year with 12. His 1.0 swats per game average ranks 10th in Conference USA.