UCF Claims Fourth-Straight in 70-45 Win Over SMU


Jan. 28, 2009

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - From the opening tip, the UCF men's basketball team had little trouble picking up its fourth-straight win, defeating SMU, 70-45, Wednesday at the UCF Arena. Paced by senior guard Jermaine Taylor's (Tavares, Fla.) 22 points and a double-double from sophomore A.J. Tyler (Palm Harbor, Fla.), the Knights moved to 14-6 overall, 4-2 in Conference USA and 11-1 at home this year.

The 45 points by SMU (6-12, 1-5) were the fourth fewest by a UCF opponent since the Knights jumped to the Division I ranks for the 1984-85 season. The Mustangs shot only 29.8 percent from the field against UCF's defense, and 60.0 percent from the free throw line.

"I thought we set an awfully good tone defensively in the first five minutes of the game," said head coach Kirk Speraw. "We didn't give anything easy, fought hard on the glass, turned some of those tough rebounds into transition points, got the spread and I'm very proud our guys did not let up on that. We didn't let them feel like they could get back in the game, and I think that was because of a consistent effort on the defensive end."

UCF completed its evening by outrebounding SMU, 46-32, to set a season-high for rebounds in a game. A good chunk of those boards came from the hands of Tyler, who pulled down a career-high 11 (six on the offensive glass) and chipped in 10 points for his first double-double at the college level. He became the fourth different Knight to post a double-double this year.

Taylor entered UCF's top 10 by playing in his 111th career game Wednesday, while he also moved up to No. 12 on C-USA's all-time scoring list. The senior guard passed Louisville's Marques Maybin as Taylor now has 1,640 points in a Black and Gold uniform. He also recorded at least 20 points in a game for the 10th time in his last 11 outings.

Only in his first year in D-I, freshman A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) dished out a career-high 11 assists, which ranked as the 10th most in UCF single-game history. The 5-foot-9 guard also amassed six rebounds in his performance.

It did not take long for the Knights to jump out on top of the Mustangs early in the first half, opening up a 9-0 lead before SMU finally scored on a Mouhammad Faye layup 3:29 into the game. That did not stop Taylor from working his magic, draining a pair of treys and delivering a fastbreak dunk in an 8-0 run to bring it to 17-2 with 12:50 remaining.

SMU tried to make it interesting by cutting it to seven on two occasions during the half. However it witnessed UCF hold the Mustangs at bay with Taylor and freshman Isaac Sosa (Guaynabo, Puerto Rice) hitting from deep, along with having a successful inside presence from both senior Kenrick Zondervan (Hoofddorp, Holland) and Tyler. UCF eventually secured a 40-23 advantage at the break, its second-largest halftime lead of the season.

UCF continued its pressure in the second half, never letting SMU trim its deficit to under 17 points. The Mustangs went on to finish with an 11.1 shooting percentage from behind the 3-point line, making just two of their 18 attempts. The Knights `D' forced 11 SMU turnovers in the final frame. Derek Williams did rack up 17 points, but no other Mustang achieved double-digit scoring.

The Knights get right back to work as they will now prepare for a trip to Tulane Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

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.