Knights to Host National Power Memphis Saturday

Jan. 9, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's basketball team will welcome one of the nation's premier programs to the UCF Arena Saturday when the Knights host Memphis at 5 p.m. The contest will serve as the Conference USA season opener for UCF (10-4).

Led by senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.), who ranks sixth nationally in scoring at 23.6 points per game, the Knights have won five-straight contests. The squad enters the tilt with the Tigers (11-3, 1-0 C-USA) with a 12-game winning streak at the UCF Arena.

Memphis won 38 contests last season and came up just short in the national title game against Kansas. The Tigers are currently garnering votes in both national polls.

Tickets for the game are still available via Ticketmaster. On Saturday, the UCF Arena box office will be open before the contest. UCF students are admitted free with a valid school ID.

The contest is being billed as a Blackout. Fans are urged to wear black to the arena to support the Knights.

UCF-Memphis will be televised live nationally on CBS College Sports and in Orlando on Bright House Sports Network. Tom Hart will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by Steve Lappas.

The game will air on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call from courtside and former Knight Mike O'Donnell will provide analysis. Pregame coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. Live statistics will be available at UCFAthletics.com.

A 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 Memphis game. The package also includes tickets to UCF's C-USA games with SMU (Jan. 28), Houston (Feb. 4) and East Carolina (March 7).

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 Memphis
? The Tigers enter the game at UCF receiving votes in both national polls. One of the best defensive squads in the country, Memphis is limiting its foes to just 61.6 points and a 36.1 percent shooting effort each game. Memphis also paces Conference USA in scoring (78.9). On Wednesday, host Memphis opened league play with an 80-57 victory over Marshall. Antonio Anderson led the team with 17 points. The Tigers limited Marshall to 28.6 percent shooting from the floor. Tyreke Evans, one of the nation's top freshmen, leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game. In addition to 11.4 points, Shawn Taggert is averaging a team-high 8.1 rebounds.
? A year ago, Memphis won 38 games, including all 16 in the regular season against C-USA foes, and advanced to the national title game.

Series Information
? The Tigers have won all three series matchups since UCF joined Conference USA in 2005 and have a 6-0 edge in the all-time series. In the last meeting, the top-ranked Tigers posted an 85-64 win over the visiting Knights at the FedEx Forum on Feb. 9, 2008. UCF trailed 43-35 at intermission, but Memphis pulled away by using a 24-9 run to start the second half. The opening half featured eight lead changes and three ties. Mike O'Donnell led the Knights with 15 points and Jermaine Taylor added 13 points. Derrick Rose paced the Tigers with 15 points.
? In the only series matchup in Orlando, the No. 11 Tigers defeated UCF, 87-65, on Jan. 31, 2007, at the old UCF Arena. The game was played in front of a then-school record 4,805 fans. Memphis native Josh Peppers paced the Knights with 20 points, while Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 23 points in the win.

Last Time Out
? Jermaine Taylor scored a game-high 29 points as UCF closed out non-league play with a 70-57 victory over visiting Holy Cross Tuesday. Tony Davis went 14-of-16 at the free-throw line and added 16 points in the win. The Knights shot 47.7 percent overall and made 80.8 percent of their free-throw attempts.

Up Next for the Knights
? The Knights will play away from home for the first time since Dec. 20 when they meet UAB on Tuesday. The contest will be televised regionally on CSS and in Orlando on Bright House Sports Network.

? Although UCF and Memphis have met only three times in Conference USA play, the relationship between Kirk Speraw and John Calipari dates back to the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Speraw's Knights faced top-seeded Massachusetts coached by Calipari in the first round of the tournament in Providence, R.I. UCF trailed by just three points at the half, but the Minutemen used a big run at the start of the second half to post a 92-70 victory.
? Speraw and Memphis assistant Josh Pastner both have ties to Lute Olson. Speraw played for Olson at Iowa from 1975-79 and served as an assistant at his alma mater under Olson from 1979-80. Olson was Pastner's head coach at Arizona from 1996-00. After concluding his playing career, Pastner worked under Olson for eight years.

Conference USA Success
? When UCF entered Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 campaign after dominating the Atlantic Sun Conference, members of the media who cover the league expected that it would take years for the Knights to be competitive in C-USA. Kirk Speraw and the Knights have proved the doubters wrong.
? Since joining the league, the Knights have won 27 conference contests, good for fourth among the 12 C-USA programs during that span. In all three of its campaigns in C-USA, UCF has finished in the top five in the final regular season standings.
? UCF entered C-USA with five other programs and has won the most games among the new schools. With the move to C-USA from the A-Sun, the Knights have faced the biggest increase in competition. Rice, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP joined C-USA from the Western Athletic and Marshall came to the conference from the Mid-American.

? The Knights enter the contest with Memphis riding a five-game winning streak. During the streak, the Knights have averaged 82.2 points while shooting 51.5 percent overall and 44.2 percent from deep. The squad has posted a +17.0 scoring margin during the five games.
? UCF has not won six-straight games since opening the 2006-07 campaign 6-0.

Home Court Advantage
? The Knights have won 12-consecutive contests at the UCF Arena. The team is off to an 8-0 start at the facility this year. UCF's last loss at home came on Feb. 2, 2008, when Houston escaped with an 84-81 victory.
? Since the UCF Arena opened last fall, UCF is 20-4 at the venue.

Home Cooking
? The Knights are clearly enjoying their home-court advantage at the UCF Arena. The squad is averaging 84.1 points per game at home, compared to 60.3 points away from Orlando. In eight home contests, the Knights are shooting 51.6 percent overall and 42.3 percent from deep.

Tough Start
? The Knights will not have an easy start to their Conference USA campaign. UCF opens league play against Memphis, a squad that was the national runner-up a year ago. The Tigers were picked to finish first in the C-USA Preseason Poll. After meeting Memphis, the Knights will head to Birmingham to meet UAB Tuesday. The Blazers were tabbed second in the preseason poll.

? 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 36.8 percent from deep.
? UCF is connecting on 7.7 3-pointers per contest.

You Don't Know the Half
? UCF has held on to its leads this season. The Knights are 7-0 when leading at halftime. UCF took an advantage into intermission in each of its last five contests.

Sharing is Caring
? The Knights lead Conference USA, averaging 16.2 assists per game. Four Knights have dished out at least 20 assists on the year, led by A.J. Rompza (72).

The Dish
? A.J. Rompza is third in Conference USA, recording 5.1 assists per game. His 2.18 assist/turnover ratio is good for sixth in the league.
? At home, the freshman is averaging 6.4 assists. In eight games in Orlando, he has dished out 51 assists and committed only 17 turnovers.

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 show that Rompza is following the advice. He began his collegiate career by totaling 19 assists and 15 turnovers in UCF's first six games of the campaign. In the Knights' last eight games, Rompza recorded 53 assists and just 19 turnovers.

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 second on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game. The freshman shooting guard is averaging 19.8 minutes per outing and is shooting 49.0 percent from the floor. 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 49.2 percent from deep (31-of-63). Sosa's 3-point field goal percentage is higher than his percentage from the field (49.0).
? He is the lone freshman ranked in the top-10 in the league in the statistical category. Sosa is averaging 2.2 treys per game.

Tony's Been Great
? UCF's starting power forward, Tony Davis averaged 13.0 points in the team's last two games. Remarkably, he shot just 27.3 percent from the floor in wins over Sam Houston State and Holy Cross. The junior did most of his scoring at the free-throw line, making 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) at the charity stripe. Davis also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the victories.

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 1,222 out of 2,800 possible minutes (43.6 percent) during the year.
? The freshmen have accounted for 36.6 percent of the team's scoring this season.

Off the Blocks
? With seven blocks in 11 games this year, Tony Davis continues to move up the UCF career swats register. The junior forward has recorded 58 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.

Jermaine Taylor Notes
In the Lead
? One of the premier players in the country, Jermaine Taylor ranks sixth nationally and first in Conference USA in scoring at 23.6 points per game. The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in 13 of the team's 14 contests in 2008-09. He has recorded seven 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 23.6 points in 29.6 minutes per contest.
? In 2008-09, Taylor has scored 331 points in only 415 minutes, giving him an average of 31.9 points per 40 minutes.
? Stephen Curry of Davidson, the nation's top scorer (29.2) is averaging over five minutes more than Taylor. Curry is spending 35.2 minutes per game on the floor.

Family Ties
? Taylor currently ranks sixth in UCF history with 1,498 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 50.6 percent overall, Taylor has been incredibly accurate this season. His field-goal percentage ranks fourth 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 193 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. Taylor has attempted a school record 510 triples during his career.
? He is shooting 39.1 percent from deep this year, good for sixth in Conference USA.

Big Five
? Taylor is the main reason why the Knights enter the Memphis contest with a five-game winning streak. In UCF's last five games, he averaged 31.8 points. He led the Knights in points in all five of the games. During the span, he shot 58.7 percent overall, 43.5 percent from behind-the-arc and 82.9 at the line.

Second Time Around
? UCF fans should not be concerned if Taylor gets off to a slow start against Memphis. In the second half of games this year, he is averaging 14.8 points in only 13.4 minutes of action. After intermission, Taylor is shooting a remarkable 60.3 percent overall, 54.5 percent from 3-point range and 83.3 at the free-throw line.

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-three of his 50 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 15. His 1.1 swats per game average ranks 10th in Conference USA.