Knights to Open C-USA Championship Wednesday

March 10, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - Senior guard Jermaine Taylor (Tavares, Fla.) and the UCF men's basketball team will begin play at the Conference USA Championship Wednesday at the FedEx Forum. The sixth-seeded Knights meet No. 11 Southern Miss in a first round contest at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

Taylor, who ranks third nationally in scoring at 26.6 points per game, has led UCF (17-13, 7-9 C-USA) in scoring in 29 of the team's 30 games this year. Earlier in the week, he was named to the All-C-USA First Team. The All-America candidate averaged 29.1 points against league foes.

Taylor was not the only Knight to receive accolades from C-USA this week as guard A.J. Rompza (Chicago, Ill.) was named to the league's all-freshman squad. He ranks third in the conference, dishing out 5.1 assists an outing.

Southern Miss enters the tournament 14-16 overall. The Golden Eagles went 4-12 in league play.

The winner of the UCF-Southern Miss contest will meet No. 3 UAB in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

UCF-Southern Miss will not be televised, but live video will be available on UCFAthletics.com. The game will be aired on the UCF-ISP Sports Network and WYGM 740 AM in Orlando. Marc Daniels will have the call and pregame coverage will begin at 3 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.

UCF Tidbits
? Jermaine Taylor, who ranks third nationally in scoring at 26.6 points per game, and the No. 6 Knights will open play at the Conference USA Championship Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern against No. 11 Southern Miss
? The Knights, who concluded the regular season sixth in the C-USA regular-season standings, have finished in the top-half of the conference standings each year since joining the league in 2005

About Southern Miss
? The No. 11 seed Golden Eagles are 14-16 overall and went 4-12 in league play
? Southern Miss is 5-2 in neutral games this year
? The Golden Eagles, who are averaging 66.2 points per game, are led offensively by Jeremy Wise (16.2 ppg)
? Opponents are averaging just 66.9 points versus the team

Series Information
? UCF has a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with Southern Miss
? The teams met once this season and host UCF rolled to a 73-61 win over the Golden Eagles on Jan. 21 behind 31 points from Jermaine Taylor
? The Knights shot 56.0 percent overall and recorded 21 assists on 28 made field goals
? Taylor connected on 13-of-23 shots and Taylor Young dished out a career-high nine assists and had no turnovers in the win
? At the 2008 Conference USA Championship, Taylor totaled 25 points, but it was not enough as the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles held on for a 68-62 win over No. 4 UCF in the quarterfinals
? Southern Miss scored 20 of its 41 second-half points at the free-throw line as UCF was whistled for 20 fouls after intermission
? In five career games against Southern Miss, Taylor is averaging 14.6 points
? Taylor has averaged 23.0 points in his last three contests versus the Golden Eagles

Last Time Out
? Jermaine Taylor scored 27 of his game-high 36 points after intermission to help the host Knights overcome a 17-point deficit and post a 74-71 win over East Carolina on Saturday
? East Carolina led by 17 points with 18:17 to play in the second half
? On senior night at the UCF Arena, Taylor connected on four 3-pointers after intermission as UCF outscored the Pirates 51-34 after the break

Up Next for the Knights
? The winner of the UCF-Southern Miss game will face No. 3 UAB in the quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Thursday
? The Knights nearly topped host UAB on Jan. 13, but the Blazers went on a 17-0 run to end the game and posted a 60-52 win at Bartow Arena
? Jermaine Taylor scored 18 points for the Knights, who led by 10 points with 10:35 remaining in the contest

UCF in the C-USA Tournament
? UCF is 1-3 all-time at the Conference USA Championship
? The Knights will be playing in the opening round of the tournament for only the second time since joining the league in 2005
? UCF participated in the opening round of the 2006 event, topping East Carolina, 65-52
? A year ago, UCF earned the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye
? In four games at the C-USA Championship, Jermaine Taylor is averaging 11.5 points

Show and Improve
? UCF has already improved upon its win total from a year ago as the squad went 16-15 in 2007-08
? The Knights have increased their win total despite losing five seniors, including two starters

Hey Young World
? With eight true freshmen and 12 total underclassmen, UCF is the fifth youngest team in the country
? The Knights currently have just three upperclassmen - seniors Jermaine Taylor and Kenrick Zondervan and junior Drew Speraw

The Get Fresh Crew
? During the campaign, underlcassmen have played 62.6 percent of the minutes for the Knights
? Freshmen have accounted for 38.9 percent of the minutes
? That number would have been higher, but rookie forward Dave Diakite only played in five contests early in the season before suffering an injury

Sure Shot
? The Knights enter the Conference USA Championship as arguably the top shooting team in the league
? UCF is the lone squad to rank in the conference top-four in both field goal and 3-point field goal percentage
? The team is third from the floor (44.9) and fourth in the league from deep (35.6)
? The Knights are connecting on 7.2 triples an outing, good for second in the conference

Sharing the Rock
? Thanks to A.J. Rompza and Taylor Young, the Knights pace Conference USA and rank in the top-40 nationally in assists, averaging 15.5 a contest

Hit the Freeway
? The Knights established a Conference USA record as the team shot 79.9 percent from the free-throw line in league action
? The C-USA team single-season conference record in the category was 79.3 percent, which Houston achieved a year ago
? The fact that the Knights are enjoying success on the line should come as a surprise to those who watched the team play at the start of the year
? UCF shot 70.1 percent at the line during non-conference play
? UCF especially struggled at the charity stripe at the start of the season as the squad shot just 61.1 percent from the line during six games in November
? On the year, the Knights are shooting 74.9 percent at the line, which ranks second in C-USA

Free Falling
? If the campaign ended today, UCF's free-throw percentage (74.9) would be good for a school Division I single-season record
? The current D-I record is 73.0, which came during the 2002-03 campaign
? The school joined the D-I ranks in 1984
? UCF's 1975-76 squad established a program record by shooting 76.1 percent at the charity stripe

Back at You
? UCF fans should have no fear if the Knights are trailing because the team has posted several impressive comebacks this season
? The Knights, who are 6-8 when down at the break in 2008-09, rallied from a pair of 17-point second-half deficits to post wins in Conference USA play (vs. Tulsa Feb. 14, vs. East Carolina March 7)
? On Nov. 23, UCF trailed host New Mexico by six points with a minute to play, but rallied and took a 72-71 victory when Chris Baez nailed a 3-pointer with four seconds remaining
? UCF's victory at The Pit snapped a 33-game home non-conference winning streak for the Lobos
? Jermaine Taylor, who scored 18 points at New Mexico, is averaging 14.1 points during the second half of games this year

Green Day
? The Knights are 5-0 in day games this year
? The squad has not played an early game since posting a 79-74 overtime win over host Tulane on Jan. 31

The Dish
? A.J. Rompza is third in Conference USA and among the top-40 in the country, dishing out 5.1 assists per game
? He has registered at least five assists 16 times and on three occasions, the freshman has recorded at least 10 assists
? Rompza has played in 28 of UCF's games and has registered 142 assists
? The 142 assists are good for seventh on UCF's single-season register
? A year ago, Chip Cartwright paced the squad with 107 assists on the season
? In February, Rompza missed two games due to an injury and the Knights went 0-2 without the Chicago native

Senior Moments
? Kenrick Zondervan clearly elevated his game in Conference USA play
? He averaged 9.3 points and 5.1 rebounds against league foes
? During the non-conference portion of UCF's schedule, he averaged 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds
? In his final game at the UCF Arena, he totaled 15 points and eight boards versus East Carolina (March 7)
? Zondervan has shown great improvement since arriving at UCF
? As a freshman in 2005-06, he averaged 0.3 points and 0.3 rebounds in 18 contests
? As a senior, the big man is averaging 7.1 points on 58.2 percent shooting overall

Grab a Rebound
? Since being inserted into the UCF starting lineup against Houston on Feb. 21, A.J. Tyler has been strong on the glass for the Knights, averaging a team-high 6.2 rebounds in four contests
? A transfer from Clemson, he is averaging 6.8 points and 4.3 boards this year
? In league play, the sophomore connected on 27-of-30 (90.0 percent) of his free throws

Handle with Care
? Taylor Young is third in Conference USA and among the top-20 nationally with a 2.76 assist/turnover ratio
? The redshirt sophomore has recorded 105 assists with just 38 turnovers this year

Three's Company
? Isaac Sosa is shooting at a 46.3 percent clip from deep, making 56-of-121 attempts
? The percentage would lead Conference USA, but he is averaging less than two 3-pointers per game
? If the campaign ended today, his 3-point field goal percentage would rank third all-time at UCF
? Jason Thornton is the school's single-season record holder, connecting on 49.5 percent of his tries from deep in 1999-00
? Sosa, who has made seven starts for the Knights, is second on the team among active players, averaging 8.2 points

Jermaine Taylor Notes
Top of the World
? One of the premier players in the country, Jermaine Taylor leads Conference USA and ranks third nationally in scoring at 26.6 points per game
? The shooting guard has led the Knights in scoring in 29 of the team's 30 contests in 2008-09
? Taylor has paced the squad in points in 25-consecutive games
? He has recorded nine 30-point showings and one 40-point performance
? In each of UCF's last 14 games, Taylor has scored at least 20 points
? Below is a list of the leading scorers in the nation, through games of March 8:

1. Stephen Curry, Davidson (28.9)
2. Lester Hudson, Tennessee-Martin (27.3)
3. Jermaine Taylor, UCF (26.6)
4. David Holston, Chicago State (25.8)
5. Jodie Meeks, Kentucky (24.7)

Number One Spot
? The senior established a pair of Conference USA single-season scoring records
? He averaged a league-record 29.1 points in conference play, totaling a C-USA-best 466 points
? Morris Almond of Rice holds the league's overall single-season scoring mark with 844 points in 2006-07
? Taylor has scored 797 points this year, already good for a school Division I record
? If the season ended today, Taylor's overall scoring average (26.6) would be a league record

Field Mob
? Taylor's 286 field goals in 2008-09 are already a Conference USA single-season record
? In league play, his 163 field goals were also good for a conference record

Move Something
? Taylor, who is UCF's all-time leading scorer at the Division I level with 1,964 points, needs 22 points versus Southern Miss to move to third on the Conference USA career scoring list
? Steve Logan of Cincinnati (1999-02) is third at 1,985 points

Set the Record Straight
? Against Southern Miss, Taylor should set a UCF single-season scoring record
? His 797 points trail only Bo Clark, who scored 806 points in 1976-77, on the school single-season register

Award Tour
? Taylor was recognized for his stellar play this season on March 9 when he earned All-Conference USA First Team honors
? He became the first Knight since 2003-04 (Dexter Lyons, Atlantic Sun) to receive first-team all-league recognition
? On March 4, Taylor earned a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 11 First Team

Seven's Travels
? Taylor closed the regular season in incredible fashion, averaging 35.1 points in UCF's last seven contests
? He shot 85.5 percent (59-of-69) at the free-throw line, making 9.9 trips to the charity stripe per game
? Taylor totaled at least 35 points five times during the span, including a 45-point performance versus visiting Rice on Feb. 25
? The 45 points were a school single-game Division I record and were good for fourth all-time at UCF
? His scoring total was good for second in Conference USA history, trailing only Robert McKiver of Houston and the 52 points he recorded versus Southern Miss a year ago
? Taylor is one of just three players in the country who have totaled at least 45 points this season, joining Jodie Meeks of Kentucky (three times) and Ben Woodside of North Dakota State

The Score
? During the first half of UCF's victory over Tulsa on Feb. 14, Taylor (1,964 points) became UCF's all-time leading scorer at the Division I level (since 1984-85)
? Taylor is third all-time on the school's overall career scoring list
? Bo Clark (1975-77, 78-80) is the program's career leader with 2,866 points

14 Shots to the Dome
? Taylor, who is hitting 48.5 percent of his shots, is the most accurate shooter among the top-10 scorers in the country; he is also sixth in Conference USA in the category

Three Dog Night
? Taylor is shooting 38.4 percent from 3-point range, good for fourth in the conference
? Against Houston on Feb. 4, Taylor hit three treys to become UCF's career leader in 3-pointers
? He has made 250 triples at UCF
? Taylor has attempted a school record 660 3-pointers during his career

Less is More
? Last season, Taylor averaged a team-high 20.8 points in 33.5 minutes per game
? This year, he has been more productive despite playing less minutes, averaging 26.6 points in only 31.8 minutes

So Much More
? This season, Taylor is exhibiting that he is more than just a lethal scorer
? He leads all active UCF players on the glass, grabbing 5.3 rebounds per contest
? Taylor, who is listed at 6-foot-4, is first on the team with 24 blocks